We are nearing the end of what I call May-hem. I don’t know about you, but May is always the craziest month of the year for me. It’s particularly hectic this year, because my oldest child is graduating. So, not only do we have exams, end of year activities and a serious case of spring fever, but we also have the added bonus of graduation festivities. I’m certainly not complaining about his successes; to the contrary, I’m extremely proud! But, boy, am I exhausted!
I can’t help but ponder what lies ahead for my son. What will this new stage of life hold for him? What new successes will he realize? What challenges will he face? What will he learn about himself that he never knew before? How will he grow as a person, a scholar, a friend? My hope for him is that he never stops learning about himself and the vast world around him… that every single day is an adventure in discovery and a step towards becoming the person he someday hopes to be.
No matter where you are in the journey of life, getting to that desired next level takes a lot of energy, commitment, and an open-mind. At times we may be full of energy but lack the dedication necessary to move forward. Other times we may be fully committed to the task at hand but lack the willingness to learn from others or from our own mistakes. It’s only when these attributes work in concert that we can truly move forward and grow.
When embarking on a sales transformation initiative where we expect our sales teams to advance to the next level, it’s important to create an environment where this can take place – an energetic atmosphere that encourages a commitment to change and nurtures the desire to learn new things.
Sounds pretty tough, huh? Certainly, it can be challenging to create this kind of work environment, but it’s not impossible. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Create an energetic environment:
- Create positive energy in the workplace by starting with yourself. Are you generally a happy person with a positive attitude? If not, your negativity and grumpy approach could be contagious. Remember that your direct reports take cues from you, especially during times of change.
- Set clear expectations and outwardly recognize those who achieve results. As a general rule, salespeople (or any employee, spouse, or child, for that matter) need to understand what success looks like to you in order to perform to your expectations. Assuming telepathic skills are not mandatory for hire in your office, your team will not know what you expect of them unless you tell them. And as soon as one person is publicly praised for meeting/exceeding your expectations, more will follow suit.
- Nip negativity in the bud! Don’t be afraid to talk to Negative Nelly or Pessimistic Paul and find out what’s nagging them. An open dialog is critical to address the issue(s) head-on and prevent this attitude from infecting others.
Encourage a commitment to change:
- Change starts from the top-down and won’t be adopted if executives are not aligned and on board.
- Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more! Devise a plan for sending out regular updates during a change initiative to keep everyone informed and to keep the rumor mill at bay. Transparency is essential.
- Identify members of your team who can be your lead change agents. Give them the responsibility of outwardly embracing the change. Of course, don’t forget to set clear expectations!
- Celebrate successes, discuss failures, learn from your mistakes, and move forward.
Nurture a learning spirit:
- Encourage open dialog during meetings for team members to share experiences.
- Set-up a mentoring program so that more tenured team members can shepherd newer employees through the change.
- If your sales transformation includes new processes, systems, and/or tools, ensure that adequate training is made available to everyone involved in the change effort. And, executives, your attendance at this training is required to demonstrate your commitment!
Although daunting, change is oftentimes necessary to experience true growth, either as an individual or as an organization. If you need guidance in taking your sales organization to the next level, give us a call. We’d be honored to help you.