The 6 Secrets of Successful Change Management

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All self-respecting salespeople are proud of their work. They like to feel as though they possess an innate talent, and that there's a reason they're doing what they've chosen to dedicate so much of their time to. Regardless of age or experience level, there are certain natural emotions that might come into play when companies are proposing changes.

If workers are led to believe that so much of what they've spent a great deal of time mastering can be transferred to anyone with a pair of thumbs, they might resent it on an emotional level that they might not even share.

One potential complication Arussy mentions is that salespeople might be opposed to the idea of sharing their stats and information, letting some of their colleagues in on their secrets, so to speak. "We call them rainmakers," Arussy says. "And what's the essence of the rainmaker? If you don't have a good product, 'I'm going to bring the rain against all odds.' They like to give themselves credit for being magicians." In offering a transparent system, salespeople can often be made to feel as though their secrets are being shared.

Thus, it would be a good idea to communicate how the technology is going to help them work together and be more connected, ultimately to sell more. "We like to say sales is a team sport," Kippley says. "Those who are successful know how to optimize and leverage the subject matter expertise within their organizations. They know how to get things done faster and cut corners where there are inefficiencies."

Again, if such steps are not taken at the outset, the message being sent by companies is one of failure on the part of their rainmakers, and that's bad news.


It should go without saying that technology should never force people to do more work than they're already doing to begin with. "If you force people to use a system that is making their jobs worse, you're going to create massive productivity and employee engagement problems," Karin Hurt, CEO of Let's Grow Leaders, a consulting firm specializing in designing strategies for businesses, says. "They're going to do everything they can to avoid it."

Along those lines, a sales team should never feel as though technology is being employed solely for the benefit of the managers. Granted, it's good that CRM provides managers with visibility into a sales force's progress, but the central message managers should be sending is that the technology is there to help salespeople do their jobs better.

Nevertheless, Kippley maintains that it is helpful to illustrate that higher management is using the technology as well, for the sake of driving home the idea that the technology is being universally adopted by the organization. "It cements the fact that this isn't just lip service," he says.


When it comes to deploying the programs that sales professionals are going to be using regularly over an extended period of time, experts agree that it's generally smart to steer clear of an abrupt implementation in favor of a more gradual one. In the early days of CRM, a common mistake was that companies simply instituted change and gave little thought to how the workforce was going to receive it. But the trend has been shifting. After enough trial and error, companies have realized that it's a delicate issue that needs to be handled with care.

Pilot periods are commonly encouraged by experts. During these periods, a small subset of the company is selected to test the technology and share its experiences with the others. Keeping colleagues updated via email, meetings, or through other internal communication channels can be helpful, as it also lets people know what to expect. Likewise, getting user testimonials and videos in which those who have piloted the product attest to its benefits could prove useful.

However, it's important to be all-inclusive when deciding who is going to be participating in such trial periods. While it might be tempting to recruit the most enthusiastic and vocal representatives of a company to test the materials, it might be a better idea to go for a mix to act as guinea pigs. Analysts suggest drawing a subset of users that will represent those who are ultimately going to be expected to use the new technology. Of course, asking volunteers to step forward is advised, but testers should also be drawn from a segment of those who aren't as keen on trying it. Kippley suggests that including people who are not technology experts is a good idea, because it helps drive home the point that anyone can use the solution effectively. It also reinforces the idea that there will be support and training opportunities available.

If the right group of people is selected for the pilot program, they can generate excitement about the system and show how the program has helped them do their jobs.

One small factor to keep in mind about the pilot period, however, is the capacity of the system. Since the entire program will eventually be inhabited by more users, the experience that the small subset reports might differ from the one that is waiting further down the line. "A system that works fine when you have ten users on it may not work as quickly when there are 200,000 users connected to it," Hurt points out. "You need to be able to account for things like that. But other than that, [the beta tests] should be a good indicator."

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