A company wanting to shift its strategy must undergo adjustments in order to take a programmatic approach and drive lasting momentum alongside a sales behavior change. A sales transformation could look like one of the many shifts that demand the evolution of the sales team's culture; such as mastering a new sales message, adjusting the positioning of a broader solution, or integrating an acquired company. Leadership must drive the sales transformation to avoid getting stuck in the process and should not underestimate the change management required or underinvest in sales enablement.
What is a Sales Transformation Program?
Sales transformation begins with executive alignment on the change vision for the team, the content and training required to build confidence in the field, and the continuous learning to make the transformation stick. A great way to think of sales transformation is as a process in four discreet phases focused on strategy implementation.
The 4 Phases of Sales Transformation
Define, Build, Launch, Enable
Phase 1 of a transformation is defining the change plan through workshops and virtual collaboration with executive stakeholders. This process ideally results in buy-in and commitment to a well-defined sales change program versus having a big kickoff that either lacks depth or is not tied to a longer programmatic effort.
When leaders align on a clear change vision and address any necessary shifts in the incentives model tied to that vision, the risk of gradual change and confusion can be avoided entirely.
The goal of the second phase is to build useful content that will make the sales transformation tangible for the sales organization. Through collaboration with "thought leaders” and subject matter experts across the organization, as well as directly involving sales in the creation and validation of the sales kit or sales playbook, companies can obtain the critical success factor of having sales teams' buy-in on the enablement content and overall transformation.
Embracing "sales ready" content that is useful and easy to apply in the real world by showing the seller what good looks like through video and practical tools, includes building up these core areas:
Strategy - Where to Go
Messaging - What to Say
Process - What to Do
Leadership - How to Coach
The resulting sales ready playbooks or kits should be made available through the CRM platform where sellers are going every day. When leaders stay committed to sales ready enablement, the risk of the field becoming frustrated by not knowing how to change is eliminated.
Achieving a high-impact launch is the third phase of sales transformation, as these programs need a fast start and early momentum. The impact of the launch requires an experiential approach to training sellers, managers, and specialists. Whether the launch events are virtual or in-person, the key is to focus on real-world application with role plays and simulations in a fun, super engaging environment.
One of the best ways to create high levels of engagement is to prepare managers for a defined role in leading training breakouts with their teams and drive change throughout the launch process. Another way to energize is to focus on quick wins. Think, "what activities and outcomes will be the primary focus of the 1st 90 days following launch that will be measured, celebrated, and rewarded?" When leaders embrace experiential learning and launch programs in partnership with sales managers, while highlighting quick wins, the risk of the sales organization having anxiety around change will dissipate quickly.
The final phase of ongoing enablement or reinforcement is where the change either sticks or dissolves. Since sales transformation programs are always designed with the end in mind, post-launch momentum and reinforcement are a must. The good news is that successful post-launch processes have a number of proven elements including:
Learning Challenges: A set of activities and outcomes assigned to an individual seller or entire team that will continue the sales transformation journey. Learning challenges are topical, like “engage c-level decision-makers to create awareness" with the requirement to watch a couple of micro-learning modules, record a role play video leading a c-level conversation, capture planning notes for an upcoming c-level meeting, etc.
Micro Learning: Short, focused learning that is self-directed and allows a seller to quickly consume a module of content in 10 minutes or less, that is built with the mindset that sellers aren’t looking for long e-learning modules of the traditional variety. Instead, these are designed to fulfill sellers' desire and need for more bite-size learning that is useful in the moment.
Training-In-A-Box: Manager-led team meetings focused on best practice sharing, collaboration, and accountability around the transformation journey. The term “training-in-a-box” refers to the benefits of packaging up a simple kit that managers can use for team meetings with little to no prep required.
Success Podcasts: Sellers want to hear from each other and learn what’s working across the team. Podcasts are the perfect way to share success stories and insights through quick 20-minute interview-style recordings that build confidence.
Coaching & Certification: Managers are the best positioned to certify their teams on new skills, messages, and practices tied to sales transformation. With a realistic time commitment and tools that are easy to utilize, managers can embrace their change agent role and ensure sales mastery and adoption.
By design, the sellers are not made aware that the launch phase and the enable phase are technically separate. This is due to both phases being tied into a concerted effort to implement change through the mix of live training, on-demand training, coaching, and continuous learning, removing the risk that the transformation gets off to a false start.
Success Sales Transformation Programs
To learn how other sales and marketing leaders accelerated sales transformation across their organization and built lasting momentum, watch the below videos. Remember, it all starts with a commitment to change management combined with the depth of sales enablement content and experiential learning.