Change Management in Sales: How to Successfully Introduce Your Team to New Methods

Change Management in Sales - That's the way it works

Translated by William Boletta

When was the last time you did something different with your sales team?

Markets, products, services, as well as your entire company are constantly changing. But with sales people often do exactly what they have done in the past. Methods have been figured out and somehow they still seem to be working - at least deals are still being made. Often the operative idea in this case is:

“People buy things despite sales.”
(André Fritsch)

In many companies, much more could be achieved. Sales representatives are sent for training and further education so that they can learn new things. For example, the Visual Selling® method is introduced, but the new behavior patterns are not put into practice. As a result, there will be restructuring, layoffs, and new hires. And still nothing changes.

There might be several reasons for this:

  1. Employees are not willing to change. It takes from three to ten weeks to drop old behavior patterns and adopt new ones (Fritsch, 2018). Putting them into practice takes more time than the old familiar way did. People need to leave their comfort zone, and that is why, given the stressful nature of business, they want to stick with the tried and true way.
  2. The sales manager does not allow the change. Maybe he doesn’t even support the new method. Maybe he has not learned it himself and therefore can’t demonstrate how it works. And maybe the entire sales team is not properly organized.

Often one reason leads to another. Managers must allow for change and support their team to make sure that the training works over the long haul. They need to do follow-up, joint evaluation, fine-tuning, reviewing, and final assessment. To do all this, a sales manager has to know what the new method involves and be able to implement it (Fritsch, 2018).

What is your position on the team?

As a leader, you need to be able to lead your team. Everybody has their special place on the team. And even if you are dealing with new work, these basic patterns will be present and are quite important.

Just imagine this scenario: A wolf pack wants to go hunting. Before the group sets out, there is a heated debate about who will be responsible for which task and which animal should be trapped. When will this wolf pack be able to get food?

To prevent this from happening, the usual wolf pack has a clear division of responsibilities. And the way things are structured is interesting.

Wolf packs are solid family groups. They are made up of monogamous parents who give birth to a litter of puppies every year. The yearlings and two-year-olds, who are not yet sexually mature, help with the rearing. They leave the pack when they are about three years old, and then they start looking for their own partners. (NABU)

Alpha, beta, and omega wolves are found only in wolf packs that live in captivity. They are not able to migrate and therefore need to establish a hierarchy. Here, the alpha wolves are the leaders and dominant figures. They dictate the direction of movement and are responsible for the safety of the pack. Beta-Wolves are second in rank to the alpha wolves. And in addition there are subordinate wolves who are responsible for the rearing of puppies. Finally, there is often at least one omega wolf in the pack. He is the scapegoat of the pack and the other members pick on him. (NABU) (CHWOLF, 2018)

You and your sales team might be compared to such a wolf pack. You should occupy the leadership position and thus assume the alpha role. Just as with a healthy wolf pack, this is not merely a matter of size and strength. They show their mettle by demonstrating experience, calm and superiority, confidence (CHWOLF, 2018) (Burger, 2014).

Very young employees will more likely be in the middle ranks of the team and will need to be supervised by other experienced sales staff so that they can “survive.” And then make sure you have a few employees who are seasoned and can sometimes assume the role of deputy leader.

If your team is set up this way, then you probably have a well-functioning sales force that can work together. This will clear the way for introducing new methods, such as the Visual Selling® method.

Change begins at the management level

Precisely because you are playing the alpha role, you need to set the direction and be familiar yourself with new methods and how to apply them and thus set an example. A trainer’s job is “to convey approaches, content, ideas, methods, philosophies in a way that allows participants to see the added value in them, and also to encourage experimentation, to stabilize a basis of knowledge, to create flexibility, to increase self-motivation, and to shape skills so that participants will have the ability and desire to take some initiative.” (Fritsch, 2018)

In the process, you will be able to assure that training sessions are meaningful for your employees over the long term, and at the same time you can coach them in how to apply the method themselves. This will only be possible if you can respond confidently when your team members don’t like certain approaches and start to object to them.

To make this possible, effective change always starts with the leader. That is why André Fritsch of the Fritsch Academy always works first of all with you. He recommends setting up valuable training sessions that will give you those AHA moments. “If training works over the long term, then it will not be necessary to repeat the training over and over again endlessly. Because knowing something is a far cry from doing it." (Fritsch, 2018)

What was your experience of introducing new methods to the sales team?

Works Cited

Burger, P. (2014). Rangordnung im Rudel. [Ranking in the Pack] Accessed February 2019, www.wolf-workshop.de: http://www.wolf-workshop.de/der-wolf/rangordnung-im-rudel.html

CHWOLF. (2018). Sozialstruktur und Verhalten im Rudel. [Social Structure and Behavior in the Pack ] Accessed February 2019, CHWOLF.ORG: https://chwolf.org/woelfe-kennenlernen/biologie-ethologie/sozialstruktur-und-rudel

Fritsch, A. (2 August 2018). Nein, ich beginne nicht mit dem Team, ich beginne mit der Führungskraft![No, I don’t start with the team; I start with management!] Accessed February 2019, Visual Selling: https://visualselling.de/blog/general/die-grenzen-eines-workshops/

NABU. (N.D.). Rudel = Familie. [Pack = Family] Accessed February 2019,NABU: https://www.nabu.de/tiere-und-pflanzen/saeugetiere/wolf/wissen/18742.html

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