Art of Changing Sales Behavior– Adapting to Highly Disruptive Age: It’s Matter of Changing the Way Sales People Think…

Customers change, markets change, industries change, competitors change… and so must organizations change to survive and prospers… And that includes ways organizations must adapt and craft their sales behavior… 

According to Dave Stein; a challenge for sales leaders is to know, understand traits that are required for success in an ever-changing global sales environment. Some selling require more right-brain tendency than left-brain, and visa versa…

Hence, attempting to change the sales behavior of someone who is inherently too left-brain (science) or right-brain (art) is often more of an investment in time and money than most companies are able to make… So understanding the right proportions for sales people to effectively sell products and services is critical to success of an organization…

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Research conducted by both the Sales Benchmark Index and Gallup suggests that sales people fall into three distinct groups when it comes to attitudes toward sales change: 1.) 20% of people are early adopters: These are the people who immediately embrace change… 2.) 60% of people are ‘fence-sitters’: These individuals resist change in a passive way, they neither support change initiative, nor directly act against it… 3.) 20% remaining are entrenched in their own methods and do easily accept change… 

According to Greg Alexander; reason for such a low percentage of unwilling adopters is that management does not provided a clear link between what the change means for success of the organization; what it means for success of individual sales person. In other words sales people often wonder: How will it affect me?

In the article Change Sales Behaviors by Jeff Shor writes: Salespeople listen through two dominant filters. First they asks Does this change fit into my experience? Can it work? Second they ask: Am I willing and capable to use this in my future? And if the change fails either of these tests, then you receive– the ‘smile-and-nod’, but deep down they reject. Get it out of your head that change in sales behavior comes in the form of an e-mail, or a sales meeting, or a single conversation… 

Changing sales behavior takes– time, repetition, coaching, and willing participates… But that’s what great leaders do; they focus on the right sales behavior, and they put in the time to do it right…

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In the article Change Selling Behavior, Really? by Jim Burns writes: I question the degree to which most sales people really understand or appreciate dramatic changes in the way consumers and businesses buy things… And the degree that sales behavior must be adapted to align with changing buying process; for example; do sales people really understand their customers, do they really have an account selling strategy, do they really know how to construct and execute an effective story-based business conversations… These adaptive issues highlight the importance of marketing and selling inter-dependencies…

The need to adapt behavior such that sales people understand the customer buying environments, e.g.; ideal customer profile, key buyer roles, buyer issues and needs, competitive context, effective messaging, storytelling, lead generation, objection handling, proof points… It’s clear that structure drives behavior– and to change, or better yet, adapt behavior… the organization’s structure and culture must be aligned in order to achieve the desired outcome… A lot is at stake…

In the article Change the Behavior of a Salesperson? by Dave Kahle writes: Inevitably organizations make changes that impacts the sales organization, e.g.; new compensation program, new automation tool, new sales process, ways of working with inside salespeople… Most of these issues are relatively straight forward, however, most sales organizations are made-up of variety of people, ranging from the inexperienced rookies, to the veterans who have been around for ever… Most rookies are eager to learn and quick to adapt to the new thing, while many veterans are often set in their ways and resistant to new initiatives… The question of how to get veterans to embrace and implement new things always comes-up… And it can be a big issue…

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The knee-jerk reaction is, of course, to say; Do it this way or find another job… And it really would be great if it were that simple; many veteran sales people are consistent performers… and many executives feel loyalty to the people who have helped them build the business… Also, veterans are typically great resources of relevant knowledge and experience, and well-entrenched in major customer accounts… So, while it’s easy to say ‘change or leave’, the reality is that the issue is much more complex than that…

However at a point you must make a determination: Is this a ‘can’t do’ (ability) issue, or a ‘won’t do’ (attitude) issue? There are different scenarios for each… The future of most organizations is characterized by constant and rapid change, and its success it tied to the ability to adapt to change… it’s part of the job description… The organizations that consistently manage change and systematically bring about effective change in behavior have a serious competitive advantage over those that are locked in behaviors– that used to work…

Promoters of change must involve all levels of management and they must drive change on a day-to-day basis… while keeping the process simple… for example, use this rule of thumb: Whenever you can’t describe a vision in five minutes or less, you’re in for trouble. That means the process for change is too complex… and if for example; a sales person can’t grasp how the proposed change will help them retain and acquire more customers, it’s highly unlike that they will readily accept change…

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Most important; effective change is based on effective leadership…  Change must be explained in simple terms– why the change is needed; who is affected by change; the timing of change, the expected outcome of the change… Employees won’t accept change unless they believe the change will truly make a difference. Create a work environment that enables, embraces change, especially adaptive sales behavior…