Don’t Confuse Sales Activity with Lasting Change

Here’s how to implement real change in your sales organization.

Why do so many salespeople refuse to learn new prospecting strategies or to change sales tactics that aren’t working? Change is the only way to grow and excel. And why wouldn’t salespeople follow the path to the highest commissions, the fastest closes, the best meetings, and the most powerful relationships?

Much of the reticence is because change feels uncomfortable. Change is hard. Change makes us vulnerable. We no longer have a clearly defined path. We’re not certain where our next steps will take us, or exactly what to do when we get there.

Just as importantly, many sales leaders don’t know how to make the case for change, so they measure their reps on legacy activities—even when they know change is essential to deliver significant results.

Change Starts at the Top

In his amazing article, “Do You Lead from the Top or Within?”, Ali Soheil offers an insightful perspective on what it takes for leaders—across roles and industries—to keep up with the pace of change in today’s quickly evolving business world. Put simply: To lead change in our organizations, we must first change how we lead.

He writes:

Only a small group of leaders truly understand and more importantly embrace good change management competencies … What most people talk about and label as change are in fact the antecedents not the change itself.

Let me use a real example. A good friend of mine decided to set a goal of losing some weight and getting healthy. He renovated his basement and bought some expensive exercise equipment including a fantastic sound system to keep him motivated. Six months later … I asked him how his training was coming along. He confessed he had done nothing to date! In this case he made the classic mistake we all make in the business world of considering obtaining the equipment, the antecedents (a preceding occurrence, cause, or event) as the change itself. Change will not happen until behaviors change. With every antecedent, we either have encouraging or discouraging behaviors. In his case the discouraging behavior was a tired body at the end of the day looking at the couch, a bag of chips and his favorite TV show. He simply did not plan to overcome these behaviors.

As leaders we make the same classic mistakes every day. We get comfortable and declare a “win” too quickly, when we’ve really only introduced the antecedents. When you are introducing change that impacts your customers or employees, you must take adequate time to understand the change and plan for it. Otherwise you have wasted resources and capital. (Read the rest of the article.)

Referral Selling: A Change Worth Making

Sales leaders get comfortable too quickly when introducing new prospecting strategies. They schedule a sales training course, tell their reps to attend, and consider the new strategy implemented.

Not so fast…

Referral selling is a behavior change, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a clearly defined strategy, specific skills, lots of coaching and reinforcement, and accountability for results. And it starts at the top, with leaders who believe in the change and are committed to seeing it through.

Are You Really Changing Anything?

Soheil lists nine questions leaders should consider before implementing change in their organizations. These two are particularly important for sales managers:

What is important to you—outcomes or throughputs?

Outcomes often focus on value creation. Throughput focuses on volume. Most organizations reward and recognize throughput. These companies produce a significant amount of change, wasting precious resources without delivering value. Take a close look at your performance measurement. How do you recognize people? Do you measure their performance based on number of changes delivered, or based on the value these changes have created for the customers, employees, or company?

Do you measure the outcomes or do you hope for the best?

One of my good friends in a different industry told me about a significant investment and change his company was in the process of introducing. I asked how they would measure success and how he would know if his leadership team was driving the right activities. He said they had a good leadership team and he trusted they would do the right thing. Frankly speaking, this is a hope strategy. (Read the rest of the article.)

Stop hoping for outcomes, and start investing time into the only prospecting strategy that converts prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time: Referral selling.

Connect with No More Cold Call @ReferralSales

Joanne Black

With decades of experience across multiple industries, and companies of all sizes, Joanne Black’s simple message about using referral selling as the primary driver of sales is one that resonates with sales and marketing audiences around the globe. As both a keynoter and breakout speaker, Joanne provides a compelling and interesting counterpunch to the increasingly “tech-dependent” mythology of sales 2.0. Every day sales people around the world hear stories of phenomenal success achieved exclusively through status updates and tweets. So the question becomes why isn’t it working for them? A splash of cold water At many conferences Joanne’s contrarian approach goes against the prevailing winds, and even the philosophies of other speakers sharing the stage with her. Joanne’s energetic presentation style and actionable-content provide audiences with a foundation to challenge what they hear in the blogosphere about how technology is changing how they should connect with prospects. Joanne’s first book No More Cold Calling™ is still the sales bible for many successful salespeople – with it’s process driven approach to increasing sales by turning friends, clients, and colleagues into your own private sales force!

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