Blog Posts

How to Consider Your Sales Team in Change Management

March 14, 2022

Without change, there can be no progress, development, or growth. Understanding that changes are necessary to support the development and attainment of any vision or goals is an important starting point.
However, change can, and does, have a psychologically negative impact on many individuals because as human beings we tend to be creatures of habit. And once a status quo is formed we’re reluctant to alter it. This conditioning or programming is formed over time but a shift in mindset is needed to recognise what’s holding us back. And with that comes the start of accepting what needs to change. As a leader, it can be tricky to navigate change when you have to bear in mind the impact on others as well as yourself. However, it is important to address the impact on everyone involved. If you think a certain change is necessary, but the team does not agree, how do you move forward and incorporate their suggestions?
Dealing with the Barriers to Business Transformation
The biggest barrier to change can come from individuals within your team who don’t have the understanding or appreciation of why the change is required or how it can create the most positive outcome. Talking to these individuals on a one-on-one basis and addressing their concerns is key to successful change management. It may take several conversations for them to become more comfortable with the idea, whilst going through their own internal process of accepting the change and addressing its direct impact on them.  Through taking time to understand their concerns, you can provide context and highlight the benefits that they may not have considered. This also helps you to completely refine your idea and process and confirm if it is the best course of action. There is no guarantee that they will accept the change, and sometimes there is a limit to how much you can do.
Take a Personal Approach When Addressing Negative Thoughts
When implementing organisational transformation to a business process or sales strategy, it will be most successful when leaders address the negative thoughts that flow through team members’ minds. When presented with change, a team may start thinking about what it means for them personally and what they need to change. At that initial stage, people tend to worry less about the wider business, or why the change is needed for the greater good of the team. So if you address the concerns that they personally have about the change and its impact on them specifically, you have a better chance of success.  If on the other hand, you’re unable to identify with their concern or don’t address the issues then, whilst they may accept and work within the change, they will not be convinced by it. The doubt will remain and they will lack the necessary understanding and even motivation to give 100%.
Encouraging Curiosity and Questioning
Be a leader who encourages your teams to question anything they are unhappy about, don’t agree with or don’t understand. This openness is critical in ensuring that they have clarity with regards to why certain changes are needed and the positive impact it would have on them, the team and the wider business. On many occasions, you may need to make changes in your team because of broader business challenges or the impact of competitors. And some changes might receive a positive reaction, whilst others may not. Irrespective of personal bias, a good leader always tries to understand what the objective is and the desired outcomes. If leaders know the answers to these two questions, then they can design and develop better models and solutions to facilitate the change for their team. It is healthy to disagree, and it provides an opportunity for everyone to understand each other’s perspectives and develop a more robust solution. Without mutual agreement and understanding, there is no point in pushing forward with change if team members aren’t convinced. This is an effective method to understand the impact of any proposed changes on all members of the team. Another strategy is to approach the person who is the complete opposite to you and your way of thinking on the team first. In doing so, you will be able to inform the individual of the change in advance to ensure that they think about it.  You can also begin to understand the initial concerns of others and ensure that you address those concerns when talking to the rest of the team, whilst highlighting the benefits with specific barriers in mind.  Approaching someone first who thinks differently than you can also expand your viewpoint of things you may never have considered.
Prioritise Effective and Open Communication Channels
Change within organisations is managed most effectively when there is consistent communication and the team is fully involved throughout the process.  Change can be navigated in a team environment through the use of brainstorming sessions to discuss the issue and role-playing scenarios to identify potential solutions. This engages everyone and makes them feel valued.  It is a great way to share different points of view and get the team involved in the decision-making process. The earlier you involve them, appreciate their concerns and manage objections, the better their understanding will be.  Additionally, it will give them more time to process and come to terms with the change if it is something they do not agree with at first. It’s common for the sales manager or leader to feel uncomfortable during the change cycle, or even have moments of doubt. Because no matter how well prepared you are, you won’t have all the answers to give to the team or a crystal ball to predict how things will pan out.  Ensure adequate support is in place for inexperienced leaders so they too have guidance from more senior members of staff in the change process. With experience, they will be able to learn how to mitigate risks earlier and understand the impact of different types of changes better.  There is always an element of uncertainty and risk with any change being implemented, but with open communication channels at all levels, feelings of unease can be mitigated.
Change is Key to Business Development 
Change is a constant within the business environment so developing a strategy that supports proactive engagement and open discussion with all members of the team is critical for any transformation to succeed.  The better the leader understands the issues and concerns and is able to address these issues, the greater the chance of acceptance by team members and successful transformations One way to better understand your sales team’s strengths, concerns, and needs is through an easy Sales Skills Scorecard. Get your team to take this free scorecard and gain insight into your team dynamics.  Invest in your sales team with the Sales Management Toolkit from London School of Sales, an interactive online sales training on topics such as leveraging different perspectives, forming positive team habits, and developing vision.
Vinit Shah
Get valuable insight into what makes you tick with our quick ‘Skills Scan’ here.