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Get Your Sales Force To Change With BEER

Posted on  19 March 10  by 

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By Andrew Kent

When you think about it, everything you do as managers boils down to one thing: getting other people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.  And getting people to change is hard

Fortunately, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, the best way to motivate people to change is BEER.

As managers and leaders, we often make two big mistakes in change management:

  • Putting the “management” before the “change.”  This happens when we focus on convincing people to adopt an initiative, without having taken care of unaddressed barriers or flaws in the initiative’s design—for example, trying to boost adoption of a hard-to-use CRM system.
  • Convincing the rational brain but not the emotional brain.  Most change management communication focuses on the reasons why the change is necessary for the business, and how it will benefit the individuals.  Unfortunately, people make decisions with their right brain, and no amount of rational convincing will motivate someone to change long-standing habits and behaviors.

With St. Paddy’s on my mind this week, I’ve put together a framework to overcome both these challenges that would make any green-wearing reveler proud.  For any change management initiative, simply think of BEER: Barriers, Enablers, Expectations, and Reasons:

1.  Eliminate Barriers: What external and internal barriers could prevent people from changing behaviors—and how can you remove those barriers?  For example, if you’re trying to get reps to focus on selling long-term solutions, a monthly quota is a huge barrier.

2.  Create Enablers: How can you make it easier for people to change?  Traditional enablers would be tools, training, information, or support roles that help sales people adopt new behaviors.

3.  Set Expectations: Will stakeholders’ (unrealistic) expectations derail the change initiative before it has a chance to succeed?  The best way to do this is to conduct pilots in advance of an initiative’s rollout to plot out the adoption curve, and then use this adoption curve to set expectations about how long it will take to secure buy-in firm-wide.

 4.  Give Reasons: Why would it be in employees’ best interest to change their behaviors (e.g. incentives)—and how can you engage their emotional brains to generate the desire to change (e.g. communications)?  The best way to make someone feel the need to change is to force them to experience in real life the gap between what they currently do and where they need to be.

With Barriers, Enablers, Expectations, and Reasons in hand, you should be able to overcome most change management challenges.  Just remember: any time you want to get someone else to do something, all it takes is a little BEER.

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