How to Sustain New Sales Behaviors
With any strategic change initiative, there’s always the question of whether or not it will stick. If you’re tasked with ensuring your sales organization can execute against aggressive growth goals, you’re likely readying your plan.
Building sales capabilities and driving on-going reinforcement is not easy. Even veteran leaders aren’t immune to the risks that come with investing coveted time and resources in a sales transformation initiative. However, experience does provide insight on what not to do and how to lead from the front in a way that drives on-going results.
Sales leaders who have an optimized sales engine in place understand that you need the right building blocks that support behavior change and nurture successful adoption. These five components are critical to sustaining sales behaviors long after the rollout of a transformation initiative.
5 Components to Driving On-Going Adoption & Consistent Execution
It’s important to understand that achieving sales transformation comes in the form of a process, not an event. Sales transformation advances through many stages that build on one another. Together, these disciplines form a powerful foundation for the successful adoption of major sales initiatives at the organizational level.
If you’ve worked with us before, you may be familiar with this approach, which we refer to as the PRIMR methodology to driving long-term sales success. The five foundations of successful adoption being; Priority, Relevance, Integration, Measurement, Reinforcement.
If your initiative isn’t seen as a priority from the company as a whole, it will be difficult to sustain.
Initiatives that drive lasting results have leaders up and down the company leading from the front, committing to the inspection and reinforcement of the new or shifted training concepts, methodologies and processes. This critical leadership buy-in and reinforcement, from supporting departments, doesn’t happen if your sales transformation initiative is “just another sales program or training”. Your sales initiative needs to be a priority. Aligning it to company objectives is an effective way to ensure that happens. Also, ensure it gets the support from other cross-functional leaders. Find ways to articulate how changing sales behaviors will support each department leader in meeting their specific KPIs and growth goals.
In this on-demand webinar, John Kaplan runs through best practices for getting other department leaders to see value in your initiative, in a way that will ensure the company-wide support necessary to make new sales behaviors stick. This support from other company leaders will be critical to executing on the next four components below …
Spot check each stage of your initiative to ensure you are demonstrating its relevance to specific roles and the company at large. Reinforcement and execution of new sales behaviors and methodologies can easily break down if reps don’t have practical ways to execute on them.
Build relevance and practicality into your strategic sales initiative by:
- Tailoring the curriculum and reinforcement plans to real-world selling situations that the sales organization encounters on a day-to-day basis. This could mean separate trainings for different types of reps (e.g., BDRs and Enterprise reps)
- Getting other company leaders to weigh in on how changes may affect how their organizations operate with the sales team and interact with customers during the engagement process
- Developing new tools and processes that are sales consumable and customized to your buyers and sales process
Making your strategic sales initiative relevant and customized to your organization ensures salespeople can easily execute on the front line and integrate new behaviors into their everyday tasks. There are various ways you can implement relevancy into the rollout of new sales capabilities, consider these best practices companies are using today.
Much like the relevance phase of delivery, your reinforcement efforts should integrate into key components of the sales organization.
Make consistent execution practical and simple for your salespeople by integrating new methodologies into your CRM and the other sales consumable tools and content hubs that your salespeople use on a daily basis.
Consider what that means for your organization. Where can you reinforce these concepts to make them visible and easy for your sales team to reference on sales calls, in deal reviews, etc? Think through the various channels you'll need to integrate in advance. Consider how integration may also include drafting new content, processes and tools into other best practices or initiatives that are already in place. This step makes what’s new feel more like an evolution of what the sales team is doing already.
CRM integrations are a great first step, and they can play a major role in driving consistent execution. In addition, here are a few other ways you can practically integrate new methodologies into your sales team’s everyday tasks: sales presentations, pre-call tools, manager coaching guides, role-play demos, etc.
Keep in mind, integration should expand the footprint of the transformational initiative to include other organizations within the company (e.g., marketing, product development). Beyond sales team adoption plans, leaders should take other departments into account to ensure new capabilities are supported and reinforced, a few examples being:
Product: implement communication channels where product can share new solution releases and support sales ability to sell these solutions in a way that aligns with changed sales behaviors
Marketing: reframe case study templates, customer testimonial interview questions and other template collateral to ensure the end result supports sales’ ability to leverage those resources when executing changed behaviors
HR and hiring: update hiring materials to ensure new candidates will be capable and possibly familiar with the new sales capabilities you’re implementing through your sales initiative
Behavioral and business measurements are integral to your initiative’s on-going success. Implementing a discipline and accountability around changing sales behaviors is hard to do when salespeople don’t have a clear picture of what good will look like and how they’ll be measured. Define your metrics of success, and don’t leave any room for ambiguity.
Tie the results of the training program to the key performance indicators of the sales organization, and individual roles (front- and second-line management, reps, even BDR/SDRs if applicable). Communicate your progress on these benchmarks with regularity. Everyone should know where you stand on successfully changing behaviors, the outcomes the change is driving and any developments or corrections taking place.
Consider how you can best leverage your managers to measure front-line results and coach reps to success when they notice salespeople are struggling. Provide managers with a cadence and tools to assess their sales team so they effectively provide guidance, ensure accountability and drive on-going consistency.
As a sales leader, consider how you can gain line-of-sight into the adoption and application of the methodologies as well. Make it simpler to prove ROI and course correct execution challenges from the top down by integrating innovative ways to measure front-line performance. Consider a CRM tool that you and your sales team can use to track execution on the front line and leverage to make immediate adjustments as challenges arise.
Successfully executing on each concept above will support you and your sales team’s ability to drive lasting reinforcement. Leverage those concepts as you build your execution plan for driving on-going adoption and accountability across your sales organization and supporting departments.
Define your plan for regularly ensuring consistent execution, providing support to reps and new hires, measuring success, and correcting challenges. The more you can define this plan for reinforcement on the front end, the better you’ll be able to equip your sales teams for success on the back end, long after the training event is over. In addition, to ensure success in a remote sales environment, consider the best practices sales leaders are implementing now to drive results:
- Set up communication channels to help salespeople share best practices amongst their team and other territories, teams or departments
- Share regular newsletters or memos that highlight successful salespeople (including front-line managers) as a way of sharing what’s working well and helpful tips for effective execution
- Leverage “manager swaps'' where territory managers swap for training or adoption events with other teams, this supports objectivity in doing a deal review and improved adoption across teams
- Have an “all-hands manager call” every other week where you review how things are going. This is a great way to spread what’s working and discuss coaching action plans to address execution challenges
Your managers' ability to reinforce behaviors and improve seller skills will play a major role in on-going reinforcement.
After the launch event ends, reinforcement falls heavily on managers. Managers work with their sales reps on the front line, meaning they will be the first to hold your reps accountable for using new tools and methodologies. Managers are also your reps first line of support when they’re struggling to apply a critical concept to their deals in a way that moves them forward at a high value. Ensure your managers are experts in new sales processes or methodologies. Enabling them to be valuable coaches should be one of your first priorities when it comes to reinforcing your sales initiative.
How Sales Leaders Change Seller Behaviors & Make Them Stick
When aiming to improve performance or align behind company-wide shifts, sales leaders are faced with the task of transforming their sales organization by building the right sales capabilities and reinforcing changed behaviors to drive numbers up. In an increasingly remote environment that task may seem insurmountable, but it is your opportunity to drive success for your sales team, company, and yourself.
Consider the 5 critical stages to achieving sales transformation. Successful sales leaders are using these proven best practices and research-backed insights right now to change behaviors remotely and make them stick. You may find similar success implementing these strategies.