"Salespeople are born not made”; “Not everyone is a salesperson”; ‘You either have it or you don’t” and “You can’t change the spots of a leopard” are some of statements I’ve heard from people that don’t believe in training. What these people really don’t believe in is peoples’ ability to change and grow. While I feel it’s a good idea to have a healthy skepticism, going too far with that will stunt the growth of your company. After all, one of the biggest assets of your company is its people. If they can’t grow, then all you can do is “throw money” at hiring more employees, while the existing ones feel left out. While people can change and grow in skills, they tend to be uncomfortable with both. So, what do you do about helping people to work through the discomfort that comes with change for personal growth and skills development? Here are four steps that can help you, whether you are introducing a new training program, application software, company policy or compensation plan.
- People will generally go into “denial” when you launch something new. For example, at a workshop I delivered entitled “Lead Generation in this Economic Time”, a sales coordinator shared with me how she e-mailed all her sales people to forward their lists of inactive clients so they could e-market the inactive clients. All of the sales people refused to send their lists. So, in order to reduce “denial” you have to start with open communication and actually encourage negative, and positive feedback. Most managers want to squelch the nay-sayers, but in fact this will only have the folks who refuse to cooperate go “underground” and even sabotage your efforts. Have a good amount of meetings and communication before you launch and find ways to have participants be part of the process so they have ownership. Always welcome feedback. It creates an opportunity to turnaround those that resist and build support from those that are positive.
- Once people get to a point where they realize that the “organizational change” is probably “here to stay” you will still encounter resistance. What started off as “I’m not giving you the list” evolves into, “I don’t have time…” Again, encourage the communication and collaboratively work through the resistance. Establish a game plan with individuals or the group to work through any hurdles they may be faced with. This can include some help in time management issues related to offsetting the new time commitment that is necessary, whether your people have to learn a new software or sales methodology. As always, establish a time-line of what is going to get done and by when. In that time-line schedule regular meetings and feedback loops. Once your plan starts to evolve, participants will gradually start to explore what it has to offer them!
- Exploration is where you really start to get traction! Your people will start to present to you new ideas and applications of whatever it is that you are deploying company or group wide. Keep the communication going and recognize those that are making great strides with implementation. When everyone finally accepts the “new reality” the profits are about to come.
- Acceptance is the final stage in any organizational change. A footnote here is that not everyone will necessarily reach this stage! Sometimes that is acceptable, but usually the “outsiders” cause more problems than it is worth. You may have to put them in another group or let them go unfortunately. Sometimes it takes only one person to affect others in a positive or negative way. The key to continued acceptance is support from the top-level executive and on-going reinforcement.
Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi put it best when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Contact me at 781-848-0993 or firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help you in any way.
Greg Nanigian is CEO of Greg Nanigian and Associates, affiliate Sandler Training. Over the past 27 years, we've helped thousands of sales professionals and organizations optimize their selling strategies, increase profits and create lasting relationships with their customers.