When looking to transform performance in any field, the temptation is rip everything up and start again. However, I’m not convinced there is much evidence to suggest that’s the best way to turn around business performance (though, clearly, that depends how bad performance is!).
Whenever I’m asked to help a company improve their sales performance, I start with an assessment of what they’re doing now. Sounds obvious, right, but what some change management companies and training specialists do is to impose their own structures and methods directly onto their clients’ businesses with little regard for what’s already there and, particularly, what’s already working.
Don’t misunderstand me, I have ideas, structures, processes and frameworks that I believe can help companies sell more successfully more consistently, but it’s which parts to implement first and how to implement them that is crucial at the beginning. Having knowledge and expertise is one thing; knowing how and when to apply them is another.
All change carries risk and, whilst that risk cannot be entirely avoided, it should be minimised. The potential benefit and the size of that benefit as well as the likelihood of success must be measured against the risk of change before you plough in and revolutionise how a company does business. I’ve often said that the better you become at selling, the wider range of selling tools you have, the more your job is to be a sales editor not a sales performer: success comes from choosing which tools to use at which time with which client.
I apply the same belief to sales transformation and the programmes I create for clients. First, assess what works well and keep those, then look for small manageable changes where needed, changes that can be easily implemented and then support people in making those changes consistently and successfully. It’s a step-by-step approach that sounds like evolution but ends up, a year or two later, looking like a revolution.