With the hype about making more data-driven decisions at its peak, companies that employ even the most sophisticated analytics and predictive models often grapple with one thing: getting sales reps to use the decision guidance. Before they will use it, they need to trust the guidance and be bought-in to the change. If you’ve considered deploying a solution like this, you may ask yourself:
- This is a great solution, but will the sales team even use it?
- And, how can I convince sales reps (and the company at large) to trust the decision guidance from this predictive model?
By taking a four-pillar change management approach, we’ve helped many B2B companies successfully deploy optimization solutions and drive widespread sales rep adoption. Based on that experience, we’ve outlined critical success components. Check out the infographic and read the in-depth commentary below.
Pillar One: Answer the question: What’s in it for me?
- Create a committee of stakeholders. Have an honest, free-form conversation about why this solution is needed. Collect inputs and concerns, categorize them and try to address each concern. This will prepare you for unexpected hurdles during the broader roll out and create a core of support across multiple functions.
- Treat the effort as a separate work stream with a dedicated managing resource.
- Make the language so concise that all levels of your organization can clearly communicate the impact.
- Clearly articulate the benefits so they know “what’s in it for me.”
Pillar Two: Train to Develop Talent and Skills
- Map current job inefficiencies to anticipated benefits. Identify a trustworthy, respected resource to help train.
- Consider a rewards and recognition program to drive desired behavior.
- Consider which departments other than sales need the training, then tailor the training to that audience.
- For international companies, consider multilingual training.
Pillar Three: Demonstrate Executive Support
- Executive and managerial support is imperative.
- Frontline reps will respond to seeing leaders support and model the new behavior.
- Make sure you clearly communicate to the executive how this solution addresses key business problems.
- Create a business plan for deployment and continuously update managers and executives on metrics and measurements as they are available.
- You’ll also need mid-level and front-line managers onboard. Consider a communication plan that addresses their unique concerns and expected benefits.
Pillar Four: Use a Closed-Loop System
Be sure your training and communication plans include ample time for re-grouping and reinforcing. Consider these tactics:
- Ensure the right metrics and reporting are in place. Metrics keep discussions grounded in fact.
- In addition to training and roll out, set short and frequent follow-up sessions.
- In the sessions, answer questions, share success stories and win rates to build momentum.
- Share wins early and often. Tie success stories back to the benefits you outlined at the onset.
- Success stories early in the process from other reps on ease-of-use and quality of the guidance are powerful.
Keep Yourself Motivated
Finally, there are a few things to keep in mind when deploying a new technology solution. Business transformation doesn’t happen overnight; here are some pointers to keep you on track:
- Expect people to hesitate in taking on a new process, make sure they know the personal benefit they’ll see and reinforce the success stories that support those benefits.
- Don’t wait too long to begin efforts and align those efforts to the project plan.
- Encourage and equip people to take action.
- A solution that can potentially transform your business can require a cultural transformation as well, treat it as such.
Some would argue that change management is an art rather than a science. To that, I would counter that it’s actually a little bit of both.
Speak Your Mind: Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips? Tell me why (or ask questions) in the comments section!
Why Your Analytics are Failing You – Harvard Business Review
Useful Tips to Drive Adoption from MindShare 2013 – The Zilliant Blog
New Pricing Tool? Don’t Expect Sales to Get Excited – Phil Anderson, Zilliant