To gain, or to even sustain an organisation’s sales competitiveness has been severely challenged within the recent economic and technological situation and to remain relevant, sales transformation is vital to an organisation’s future success. Conducting sales transformational programs are therefore a prerequisite to progression. With research showing that between 40-70% of change efforts fail, we discuss how the failures of sales transformation change initiatives is due to the failures of implementation as opposed to shortcomings inherent within the change initiative itself.
What is driving Sales Transformations?
Organisations engage in change to meet evolving environments led by triggers of customer demand, growth opportunities, threats and increased competition.
There has been an enormous shift in consumer behaviour and the way that businesses position their product and services in markets. The marketing mix, the way that product/service is campaigned and also the huge cost pressures that organisations have seen has meant that there is a significant amount of focus on economically delivering quality content consistently, globally.
Globalization and advances in technology are influencing factors that are driving organizational change and with technology advancing around every 18-24 months, the emergence of a more amalgamated flat-earth global economy has shown clients are seeking global partners, yes, but clients are really looking for partners who are at the forefront of technology to drive global efficiencies and who use technology to innovate, providing agility to the increased frequency of change.
Managing the Change.
A framework into managing the change can be underpinned by Lewin’s (1951) classic three-step process model: “Unfreezing” by challenging the status quo and preparing for the change initiative, “Change” is the movement to the desired new state and “Refreezing” is the solidification and reinforcement of new processes, culture and attitudes. Lewin’s model has been described as perhaps too simplistic and resulting models, such as Kotter’s 8-Steps (1995), have focused on the development of procedural approaches to managing change through leadership, communication and empowerment and are useful in directing organisations through the change. Flaws in the aforementioned models relate to suggestions that organisations change in a predictable, rigid manner and thus downplays the complexity of change, the human factor and the lack of mechanisms to deal with resistance.
An abundance of literature has shown the importance of strong leadership skills and behaviours in the success of change initiatives and to effectively manage and deliver a successful change, emphasis should be placed on fluidity of leadership styles but more importantly on increasing the organisational readiness for change by preparing senior leaders for change by implementing an effective communication strategy and raising employee motivation via empowerment. As businesses become geographically diverse, with multiple layers of hierarchy with growing volatilely, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) across regions and service types; middle managers are therefore are pivotal as change agents and the critical link between frontline employees and senior management and thus training and educating these individuals purposely to develop high performing, cross-functional teams with bottom-up communication, will aid in efficient task completion leading to a positive change implementation.
Barriers to Implementation.
Individuals are inherently resistant to change and as it is the individuals that are directly impacted by the change, their motivations and subsequent behaviour is what has a significant impact on a change initiatives success or failure…
Individual resistance can be categorised in three dimensions: cognitive, where an individual assess the change and whether they can perform; affective, refers to the emotive reaction to the change; and behavioural, is the manifestation of the first two dimensions into observable negative reactions such as fear, anger, distress. Cynicism develops from manifestations of negative behaviour traits, such as distrust and unfairness, leading to individuals undermining the organisational change initiative. Cynical individuals participate less, experience emotional exhaustion and increased absence which is unconducive and is promoted by past failures. However, as cynicism is a malleable behaviour and an important barrier to change effectiveness, therefore communication, participation and teamwork are important mechanisms in reducing individuals’ cynicism.
A communication strategy is vital to delivering readiness to change and reducing cynicism as change communication that is poorly managed can exacerbate ambiguity, uncertainty and distrust leading to demotivation and increasing resistance to change. Moreover, the lack of participation of individuals affected by the change would further increase change resistance as such, teamwork and collaboration has been shown to increase the effectiveness of organisational change. However, change initiatives are seldom carried out individually, organisational change will require collaboration between different functional expertise and the barrier to implementation here are disagreements between the groups about the understanding of the proposed change and its proposed solutions.
Power, Politics and Culture.
Power and politics are one of several factors interwove in organisational culture and in the context of organisational change, politics is the use power in practice or “power in action” and integral to leadership is the ability to influence outcomes. As organisations are a complex system of groups and individuals working to different facets of organisational goals and differing beliefs (i.e. revenue growth and customers satisfaction in sales versus increased profitability and reduction in travel costs in finance), politics is understanding power-relationships and employment of tactics to manage individuals and groups to achieve the desired change goals.
As businesses become bigger, more complex and diverse, transformational change requires the formation or changing of coalitions, a culture that promotes values and beliefs that match individuals’ identities and cohesion via team decision making will assist in minimizing barriers to change; for example, limiting the flow of information i.e. failure to detect serious issues due to conscious silence based on fear or malice.
Concerning Hofstede’s Cultural Onion Model (1991), the term “power distance” relating to individuals’ perception of power and status that is spread unfairly. Organisations or groups that have a low power distance have a culture of consultation and inclusive decision making led by engaging leaders that are approachable and intertwined with effective communication practices, resulted in improved employee investment in the change, regardless of the diverse societal cultures with differing core values in multinational companies. One such practice is the use of storytelling. When faced with challenging reactions to change, leaders can revert to their positional power to force change acceptance leading to benign support and in some cases malicious obedience, whereas powerful storytelling embedded with positive metaphors and axioms to aid future sense-making in key individuals reduces misconceptions, beliefs and negative implications of the change and improves decision making facilitated by creativity and innovation.
Atelier Global can help with your businesses sales transformation for the modern era, delivering value to your customers and key stakeholders.
Atelier Global adopts a customer-centric approach, extracting and create value by optimising the efficiency and effectiveness of your organisation for the future. We achieve this by:
- Simplifying your sales structure;
- Improving your sales culture to accelerate performance;
- Creating sales propositions and services that are relevant to future customer demand.