How Do I Get My Sales Reps to Adopt the New Initiative

Do your reps struggle with field adoption?  You rolled out a new initiative at the annual sales meeting.  It’s now half way through the year.  Are your reps using the new process?  Probably not. 


The majority of sales managers have spotty success with field adoption.  ‘A’ players don’t feel the need to adopt. ‘C’ players are unable to adopt.  And ‘B’ players get around to it when they can.  It is hard getting people to break old habits and embrace new ones.  It’s hard to combat the ‘this too shall pass’ mentality that sets in.


Here’s the problem: When developing initiatives, most sales leaders never think about adoption.  Yet it is an integral part of the plan.


Don’t be a casualty to another failed adoption. See where your gaps are and close them.


There is a science to driving sales adoption.  The process has seven steps:


  1. Adoption Plan
  2. Sales Management Adoption
  3. Sales Rep Adoption
  4. Certification
  5. Gamification
  6. Coaching
  7. Measurement


Adoption Plan

When designing an initiative, include a plan for the sales adoption of the new program.  Start with the question, “Will the field adopt this?”  Your plan should identify the root causes of the adoption risk and its symptoms.


There are several critical components of a best-in-class Adoption Plan.  Here are a few:


  • WIIFM Definition – The sales team needs to understand ‘what’s in it for me’.  Every new initiative should have a WIIFM for everyone impacted by the program.  And it better be compelling.
  • Quick Win Plan – Nothing beats creating a buzz around the new initiative.  Quick wins get people excited and talking.  Think through how you will achieve some quick wins for the sales team as they begin using the new tools or programs.
  • Communication Plan – Seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you think through a communication plan.  How will the new initiative be communicated to the sales team?  And don’t limit the communication plan to the initial rollout.  Your plan should include an ongoing communication strategy to encourage, drive awareness and broadcast wins.
  • Compensation Plan Alignment – Nothing incentivizes behavior like the compensation.  Make sure your comp plan aligns with the goals of the new initiative.  Reward success and adoption is sure to follow.


Sales Management Adoption

Sales managers are the lynch pin to driving adoption.  If you don’t adopt the initiative, it’s doomed.  The second step to guard against shelfware is Sales Management Adoption.  Here are some best practices in this step.


  • Sales Manager Time Management – The new initiative will require a change in behavior.  Managers need to have a cadence with their team to ensure the new initiative is becoming part of the team’s DNA.
  • Performance Management – Every new initiative should have KPIs.  A sales management adoption plan should include a dashboard to track leading and lagging adoption indicators
  • Sales Manager Training – The training curriculum must be tailored to the role


Sales Rep Adoption

Adoption plans must account for the uniqueness of each individual. Sales rep adoption should include custom approaches to achieve adoption across your ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ players.  Your training content should account for this.


When you roll out something new, make it clear what the team should stop doing to make room for the new stuff.  Therefore, include time management guidance in your sales rep adoption training. 


In my next post I will cover the remaining steps in driving sales adoption:  Certification, Gamification, Coaching and Measurement


Lots of time and money are wasted each year creating sales programs that are never used in the field. Sales reps just ignore them, or worse, pay lip-service t
o the initiative.  Don’t be another casualty to a failed adoption.  Be world-class and plan for adoption.