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Making Process Changes Stick

June 26, 2014 | By John Donlon

Bringing about change in your organization is easier said than done. Learn techniques to drive better adoption rate from sales and marketing when implementing a process change.

You’ve done it! You made all the right moves. You updated your process based on what your customers deem important. You resisted the urge to buy the shiny new piece of technology until after the process was squared away. You’ve flipped the switch on the new way of doing things and launched it to the team. “Hooray!”

Or, wait…should it be “Whoops”? There might be one little thing you didn’t quite think through. How can you be sure everyone won’t slip back into their old habits and return to doing things the way they’ve always done them? Sure, you’ve got service-level agreements for lead-passing procedures and timeframes, but how do you know people will follow them?

New sales and marketing process

Hmm. Well, you do have those new compliance reports in place (“They’d better do it the new way, or else!”). And besides, this new way of doing things is so much better for the company, they should want to do it this way. Right?

Maybe. Maybe not. Bringing about change is easier said than done. Everything can look great on paper (or on the computer screen), but if you can’t drive adoption, you’re sunk.

So, how exactly do you do that, especially in the world of sales and marketing, where the idea of following a process doesn’t always reign supreme? These techniques can help:

  • Paint the vision. Explain the desired procedure and results at the very beginning and reinforce them throughout the project. It’s never too early to show people the path, and never too late to share it again.
  • Leverage first-line managers to drive adoption. Carrot-and-stick approaches might be effective in the short term, but they don’t last. Admonitions from the sender of the compliance report devolve into background noise. Instead, the managers of the people doing the work are the most effective at cultivating an attitude of “This is just how we do things now.”
  • Play up the “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). Not everyone’s job gets easier as a result of change, and for those who can’t easily see the benefits, help them understand how they will benefit. There may be a personal or professional gain they’re not seeing. At a minimum, highlight how doing the right thing contributes to the greater good of the organization.
  • Utilize playbooks. Whether it’s as simple as a checklist or as elaborate as a technology-enabled app built into existing systems, playbooks help script and prompt employees to perform their tasks properly. Keep playbooks short and easy to use, and encourage feedback so that people are engaged in refining the process.

There’s a great quote from author Jerry Sternin that applies here: “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.” Don’t just hope your new process is going to get executed flawlessly; make it easy for people to adopt the new practices, and you can finally scream, “Hooray!”

John Donlon

John Donlon is a Senior Research Director for Marketing Operations at SiriusDecisions. A recognized thought leader in marketing operations, he has over 20 years of experience in information technology, process improvement, and measurement and reporting. Follow John on Twitter at @SiriusJD.