The reason adoption fails is a lack of planning prior to implementation. For a project to be successful, adoption must begin when the initiative starts. Change management is not a one-time event. It requires buy-in and reinforcement from multiple parties. Don’t think that a training event and leadership’s endorsement will work.
What to do:
- Start with the end in mind – focus on adoption before worrying about the “training event” or rollout. If your CEO asks for proof of success, will you be able to show him? What metrics will you need to measure?
- Start executing adoption activities early – don’t plan for adoption after the rollout. Drive adoption throughout the creation process.
Download this tool to ensure you next sales improvement initiative is adopted:
Here is what the field is thinking when a new sales initiative is announced:
- Does my boss really believe in this or is this just lip service?
- How long until this vaporizes like the last 5 annoying initiatives?
- This is just another micro-management tool.
- If I hit my quota and don’t use this, does anyone care?
- I have been selling for 23 years. How can this help me?
- This is just for new people and underachievers.
You are fighting an uphill battle. The field thinks this the flavor of the month. Your sales leaders are wondering if you are really going to follow through. Are you? It won’t be easy. You will have to live the process every day. It starts at the top, if you don’t use the process nobody else will. If it does fail, you will lose more credibility with the field. “Just another failed initiative by Sales Leadership”. Your boss will wonder if you are right for the job. Great ideas and poor execution don’t drive revenue.
Sale organizations that focus on the rollout or training event fail. These one-time rollouts don’t lead to adoption. They are an effective way to communicate the new system, process, etc. But most of what you present is forgotten within a week.
Conversely, let’s discuss what great looks like. Chad is the SVP of sales of a $180 million software organization. He was implementing a new process. He knew the process was going to be a big change for the sales team. After multiple sales initiatives that weren’t adopted, he asked SBI for advice.
Chad started with the customer. He interviewed customers and built the process around them. This was the foundation. Next Chad formed a panel of the best reps on his team. These reps acted as a sounding board and validation committee. They helped form the process and ensure it was based in reality. Once the process was 80% of the way complete, he tested it. He asked various reps to pilot the new process and provide feedback. Chad noted challenges and quick wins. He communicated some of the early wins to the rest of the sales force. Because these wins were from influential reps, they added credibility to the process. Starting with the customer made the process relevant to the field. Chad accelerated the adoption process by incorporating his top performer’s feedback.
After the rollout Chad and team continued to execute the adoption plan. Here are a few details:
- A clear schedule of reinforcement activities – a week by week breakdown of each activity to be executed. Examples – field rides, publishing quick wins, ongoing communication (email, SFDC Chatter, text, verbal, video), training, deal reviews.
- Expectations for each role in reinforcing the process – each role should know what is expected of them. Sales reps, Front-Line Sales Leaders, Directors, RVPs, SVP. If one group doesn’t do their part, the adoption plan breaks down.
- Measurable Adoption Metrics – remember the system you implemented? Now it’s time to set specific adoption goals tied to timelines. Examples – Job aid usage, pipeline movement, post rollout surveys, direct observation.
- Continuous Improvement – your first process isn’t going to be perfect. It will probably be far from it. Make improvements based on field feedback. There should be a plan to introduce future versions.
Follow in Chad’s footsteps. Look at any current sales improvement initiatives. Are you properly situated to gain field adoption? If not, you are wasting your time. Don’t lose credibility by thinking a training event will be enough.