The start of a new year is always a time of change for sales teams. You most likely have a new sales goal, oftentimes a new strategic direction and maybe a new compensation plan. While all this newness can represent a positive fresh start to some sales reps, many others are likely to be frustrated by being asked to do things differently. So how can you motivate your sales team to embrace the new changes and challenges that lay before them?
One of the key ways to lead your sales team to positively accept change is to help them to internalize the change. That is, you can’t simply tell them why the change is good for them or the organization and expect that to motivate them to embrace the change. This type of message will only have minimal impact if they don’t fully understand and believe the reasons themselves. This is why external stimuli to promote changes in behavior oftentimes has short-lived results or doesn’t work at all. People change when they want to change. It’s as simple as that.
Here are a few ways to help people internalize and commit to change:
Give your sales team members time to consider how the change will impact them in a positive way. Ask them to think about what could happen if the change you want them to embrace creates the desired impact. How would their job be better? How might it help them achieve more? How could it make their life easier? Encourage them to take the time to answer these questions and begin to visualize the positive result this change could create. Most importantly, don’t tell them why you think the change is good for them. Allow them to discover this themselves.
Ask your sales team to share their positive visions for change. In meetings, have reps talk about where they hope and believe the change may lead them and the organization. Encourage them to talk to each other about what excites them about the change. Listen to the ideas they express to find language that you can use to reinforce the need for change. When they are frustrated, use their own language to constantly direct them toward the positive vision they have articulated.
When challenges arise, it’s important to help your sales team focus on solutions. All change leads to growing pains. Let your sales team know this is normal and expected. Listen to and validate their concerns, but then help them turn their attention to possible solutions. Brainstorm ways to overcome the challenges. Troubleshoot obstacles with them. Get them involved and engaged in finding creative ways to solve issues. Above all, keep them focused on what they can be doing to realize their vision.
Overall, trepidation and anxiety are very normal responses to change, and these feelings can hold your sales team back from embracing the new directions they need and your company needs to move forward. Motivating them to believe in the change themselves and reinforcing this positive belief is the way to build true and lasting commitment to a new direction.
If you want to learn more about leading and motivating sales teams, come to our EcSELL Institute Sales Coaching Summit. For more information: http://www.ecsellinstitute.com/summit-spring-2014
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