By: Ray Makela on December 27th, 2022
5 Key Principles of Change Management in Sales to Support Training
Many organizations invest in sales training initiatives to improve the sales team’s performance, yet these efforts often fail to achieve the desired results. Why does this happen?
To put it simply - creating lasting behavior change is hard. Training is often conducted without considering the necessary change management principles that create the desired results. The new skills and knowledge learned from training are often forgotten long before they can be put into practice and engrained within the organization.
Change management in sales is the process of implementing and managing behavior change within an organization. This process is particularly important when it comes to sales training adoption, as it can help ensure effective training that helps employees successfully integrate the new skills and techniques into their work.
Here are five key change management principles that organizations should implement in support of a sales training initiative.
#1: Ensure Strong Executive Sponsorship
A strong executive sponsor can make or break a successful training program. Not only should the executive sponsor be involved in setting the priorities and objectives of the program, but they are critical to involve before, during, and after the training.
Having a strong executive kick off the program and share why the initiative is critical to the organization can demonstrate the commitment and importance of the program. It is equally important to have the sponsor remain visible, communicate commitment and enthusiasm throughout the program, and help remove roadblocks and conflicts in executing the initiative. More than anything, the executive sponsor can reinforce the idea that the organization is committed to the participant’s success, and that the initiative is something everyone should prioritize.
#2: Communicate "What's in it for me?"
It's important to communicate the reason for the training and the benefits it will provide. This is often referred to as the “What’s in it for me?” or WIIFM. Employees are more likely to be receptive to the training if they understand why it's important and how it will help them in their work. This can include information about how the training will improve sales performance, increase customer satisfaction, or support the overall goals of the organization. Communication should start early, and be delivered frequently through multiple channels (email, video, in-person, etc.) throughout the initiative.
#3: Engage Learners Throughout the Program
Participants are more likely to engage and adopt new changes if they are involved throughout the training development and delivery. This can include providing information about the training and giving them opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions. While not every participant can be involved in the development of training, involving key employees in the process can help ensure that the training is tailored to their needs and that participants can successfully integrate the new skills and techniques into their work. Having a feedback mechanism to capture input, answer questions, and respond to concerns is important to keep the participants engaged.
#4: Provide Reinforcement and Coaching
Successful behavior change requires ongoing coaching and reinforcement after the training. This can include providing employees with a chance to apply the new skills and techniques to their work, receive ongoing coaching and mentoring, as well as offering additional training opportunities to help them continue to develop their skills. Front-Line Managers are a key component of a successful change initiative, and they need to be trained and enabled to support the desired skills and behaviors.
#5: Measure and Celebrate Success
Having a well-designed approach to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the training is critical to success. This can include tracking changes in sales performance, customer satisfaction, and other metrics to determine whether the training is having the desired impact. It can also include gathering feedback from employees and customers to determine whether the training meets their needs and expectations. Capturing and celebrating “quick wins” can help create enthusiasm and momentum for the larger change effort.
Use Change Management to Increase Training Success
Effective change management in sales is crucial for successful sales training adoption. By communicating the reasons for the training and the benefits it will provide, involving employees in the process, providing ongoing support and reinforcement, and evaluating the effectiveness of the training, organizations can help ensure training success. Plus, employees will be able to effectively integrate new skills and techniques into their work rather than forgetting the information immediately following the training session.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.