How the World’s Best Sales Operations Professionals Handle Change Management

By Vlad Voskresensky, CEO, Revenue Grid
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We all know change is hard. But how hard is it, exactly? Expert John Kotter estimated that 70% of change initiatives fall flat on their faces. In this article, we’ll examine how sales operations teams can conquer the difficulties posed by change and create a better revenue engine through proper planning, communication, and implementation.

How to Plan for Change

What follows isn’t a comprehensive list of what goes into the planning phase, but it’s a well-rounded overview of the most crucial aspects to keep in mind as you move forward. Doing more than this list is excellent, but doing less is asking for complications.

  • Set quantifiable goals: Researchers at Leiden University found that goal clarity had a significant impact on performance. Without a concrete target, the sales team can get confused, progress can be hard to track, and the project can go off course.
  • Understand your change structure: Boston Consulting Group has identified four types of change management structures that organizations can use to drive internal innovation:
    • Project-specific change management uses a team – created just for a given project – that’s dissolved after completion.
    • Distributed change management deploys multiple separate teams to execute on different projects simultaneously.
    • Formal enterprise change functions use an established, centralized team to handle a major, long-term project.
    • The hybrid structure is a mix of distributed and formal in a hub-and-spoke model – affording many of the advantages of both.
  • Build an incentive system that works. To create the change you want within your sales organization, you need to understand exactly what motivates your sales team. While it’s tempting to think the right answer here is always money, purpose can be just as powerful a driver as a bonus.

How to Communicate Change

Communication is critical to effectively creating and navigating change within a business. According to Salesforce, poor communication is cited by nearly 90% of company leadership as a cause of failed initiatives. To handle this essential aspect of the process effectively, sales ops should follow three C’s: clear, consistent, and collaborative.

  • Clear communication. Corporate language has become a successful meme precisely because of how rare straightforward communication can be in the business world. A gold standard for clarity is ELI5: explain like I’m five. If you can’t translate your idea into terms a kid could understand, you’ve still got work to do.
  • Consistent communication. To succeed, you need to spread the word to everyone involved in the transition – from the first days of gathering consensus through the implementation and beyond – via team meetings, one-on-ones, office hours, etc.
  • Collaborative communication. When all parties are encouraged to give their input, you  dramatically increase the team’s incentive to make the adoption successful. Employees who feel listened to are almost five times more likely to do their best work. One great format for collecting this feedback is a town-hall meeting where everyone is invited to think through the proposal in real time.

How to Implement Change

Of the many elements needed to pull off change within a sales org, two rise to the top: relying on leadership to stay the course during trying periods and using innovative technology to accelerate adoption.

  • Keep the faith. According to experts, “change battle fatigue” is the top reason most organizational change initiatives fail. Many – if not most – internal efforts to update or innovate begin with energized and focused participants. But excitement can waver as that initial idealism comes into contact with real-world difficulties. Steadfast commitment of sales ops and leadership to push through challenges can make the difference.
  • Leverage technology. Emerging technologies like revenue intelligence can make the implementation process more manageable. Using these platforms, sales ops can roll out changes to the sales playbook through contextually activated alerts delivered directly to each team member while they work – increasing the likelihood they’ll act on the new best practice. Gartner has estimated that 65% of B2B sales organizations will adopt this tech by 2026.

Switching to a New Track

Sales organizations can feel like trains: fast, powerful, and impossible to redirect once they get going. When sales ops plan their initiative carefully, keep the lines of communication open, and take an innovative approach to implementation, they can certainly get the whole org on a new track.

Vlad Voskresensky is the co-founder and CEO of Revenue Grid, a leading AI Revenue Intelligence Platform that helps sales teams by providing risk assessment, impact analysis, and step-by-step guidance toward actions that bring the best results. Vlad has been driving product vision and leading the company for more than a decade, with 20+ years of expertise in connecting enterprise and personal environments.