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What's All This About Change Management?

September 28, 2015 | By Steve Silver

  • Our change framework has three phases: understanding, readiness, adoption
  • The depth, breadth and tactics associated with a change management program depend on the scope and scale of the planned initiative
  • Are you achieving the best possible ROI on your sales technology?

I was first introduced to the term “change management” in 2002, when I was the executive sponsor for a major initiative to redesign and retool a lead-to-order process for a $1.2 billion business unit. At the time, it sounded a great deal like consultant-speak for “We’re going to charge you a whole lot of money for something soft and unmeasurable.” My reaction was probably prejudiced because a consulting firm bidding for a very expensive role in the transformation effort presented the phrase.

As it turned out, effective change management was a critical factor in the success of the project. We spent a lot of time and energy communicating with stakeholders, users and project team members about the reasons for the project, the impact on their jobs, the measures of success, the processes and tools, the timing and the training associated with the project.

As I’ve noted in previous posts, one of the major reasons for high levels of dissatisfaction with sales technologies is a failure to weigh the impact and potential benefit to the sales rep against the effort required to learn and adopt the new tool. Our change framework has three phases:

  1. Understanding. The first phase starts with goal setting and planning. The focus is on establishing and communicating what the project is about, as well as its goals, scope and timeframe. The objective is to inform teams and individuals about the project and involve them early in the change process.
  2. Readiness. As the project moves into the execution phase, the focus shifts to education, training and enabling sales teams to be ready for the new roles, processes, tools or systems being implemented. Identifying and addressing knowledge and skill gaps – especially with first-line sales managers – is the main objective of this phase. 
  3. Adoption. The last phase shifts to operationalizing the change and embedding it as standard operating procedure in the sales ecosystem. Leaders and project managers must ensure that ongoing support, management, measurement and feedback systems are in place to enforce best practices and incorporate improvements over time.

The depth, breadth and tactics associated with a change management program depend on the scope and scale of the planned initiative. However, even simple changes sometimes cause disruption, controversy and resistance. Sales operations leaders would do well to consider the three phases of organizational change when assessing current technologies, redesigning processes, or considering the purchase and deployment of a new tool.

Are you achieving the best possible ROI on your sales technology? Join our SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange on November 19-20 in San Francisco. For sales, the agenda will focus on setting technology vision and achieving cross-functional alignment, stewardship and execution of your technology roadmap and the future of technology in sales. We hope to see you there.

Editor's Note: The registration for the 2015 TechX has closed. To learn more about or register for this year's Technology Exchange, please click here

Steve Silver

Steve Silver is a Senior Research Director of Sales Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Steve brings with him more than 20 years of executive-level experience spanning sales operations, sales and product marketing. Follow Steve on Twitter @jstevensilver.