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Sales Enablement Soiree – Panel: Master Change Management

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Welcome to today’s panel session on Mastering Change Management. In the ever-changing landscape that we’re faced with today this couldn’t be more critical. Sales enablement professionals are often masters of change management, and I’m excited to have the experts I have joining us today on this panel to talk about some of the best practices in change management initiatives within their organizations.

With that, I’d love for each of our panelists to briefly introduce themselves. 

Arianne Emdad: I’m Arianne. I’m from DSG and I lead our Operations and our Playbook business unit. Excited to be here today. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Glad to have you here. Jeremy. 

Jeremy Noad: Hi, I’m Jeremy Noad and I work for Linde PLC where I am the Director of Global Sales Effectiveness.

Arup Chakravarti: Hi everyone. I’m Arup Chakravarti. Good morning, afternoon, evening, all of that stuff. As usual, I look after sales enablement and commercial analytics, so I have a little bit of a responsibility. We have cloud platforms and a degree of sales ops and sales enablement, and then also an element of business case and DNR analytic responsibility as well.

Shawnna Sumaoang: Well, I’m excited how all three of you joined us today to talk about change management. There is a Harvard Business stat that is pretty common and it says, 70% of change initiatives fail. I would love to hear from each of you. Let’s start Arup, on why are there challenges when it comes to change initiatives?

Arup Chakravarti: Okay. In preparation for this, I was looking at the questions and actually wanted to find any example where I felt that I could really articulate some of those challenges. And the example that I want to highlight is from a few years ago, from about six years back.

I absolutely wouldn’t call it in any regards to success. So it probably falls within that 70% failure bucket. What I learned from that process, or that event was and then actually a lot of the challenges really set within the execution phase of change management, right?

So again, if you, if you think about the bit that happens before your change program, the bit that happens through your change programs with that change event. Of course the bit that happens after the pre-bid is when you’ve got the articulation of the vision, creating some degree of urgency, the storyline behind why you need to change, going through that actual change program and then the post that is trying to lock the new behavior into the organization.

My experience is then what has been the toughest part that I’ve seen is actually. executing that change piece well enough, it’s like I’ve found not so difficult to actually articulate the vision or even the urgency or even the storyline behind why you need to change. It’s not even necessarily so difficult trying to get the investments and the business case agreed to be able to move forward with it.

Jeremy Noad: When you get into the change process, that’s when it starts to become a lot more challenging. The project that I worked on, again, we were looking at a fairly standard globalization project, looking at systems, taking them from regional through to a global basis, and then looking at a number of underlying methodologies and KPIs that needed to change.

And whilst it was a really fairly standard project around consolidation and standardization that there were clearly going to be winners and losers. That ability to communicate the real value to people that were potentially going to be negatively impacted. That was where I’d say, I absolutely didn’t do a decent enough job.

Absolutely didn’t. Right. And I think it comes back to the basics, which is you’ve got to over-communicate. It’s all well and good having a vision communicated at a global level. Unless you’re able to bring that down to a regional and even market and even team level, you’re not necessarily going to connect.

And again, hands up. I didn’t do a good job on that. Secondly, the political quotient that you need within an organization to be able to get everybody participating back in the agenda when it gets difficult. Didn’t do a particularly good job of that. Finally, being emotionally intelligent around what type of leadership style you need to flex to, whether you’re going to take a more coaching style in terms of helping the organization get through that change process or where they’re going to be a bit more directive.

Again, I could absolutely have done a much better job around that one as well. So those I’d say are the three areas where I came away from that knowing. Reflecting on it and knowing all of the areas, but, when you’re in it and you’re going through a change process that was not, was inadvertently actually very difficult. Yeah, no change. Change is hard. You know?

Shawnna Sumaoang: I want to check with the other panelists. Do you have anything else to chime in on? Some of the biggest challenges you faced when it comes to change initiatives? 

Jeremy Noad: Yeah, so I would say, successful change is hard. I mean, if you flip the 70% at three out of 10 so you’re working on a theory, it’s going to fail anyway.

But where I come from it, and I think where we dropped down a lot, it changes the way the world moves. But let me get to this change announcement, putting into practice execution. I think where we fall down is. The executives, the sponsors, they’ve all been through that journey beforehand.

They’ve had all the beatings and the steering committees about whether we should do this, answering all their questions, and in their mind where it goes wrong is they assume because they got to that point of understanding the change, the change is effectively happened in their mind, and they don’t feel the need to get engaged as it should do.

To make that change happen and fulfill their sponsorship activities because in their mind, it’s a decision that’s been made and it moved on. That is an impact into how we manage the change process and why sometimes it fails. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I couldn’t agree more. I think strong leadership is critical to successful change management initiatives.

So I do want to look at the bright side though. because there was a stat that says that companies that have been able to put in good change management practices are 3.5 times more successful than their peers and outperform their peers. So what are some best practices that you have around managing successful change initiatives?

Jeremy, I’d love to pass this one back to you. 

Jeremy Noad: Okay. So I think he’s about building the change process. Where are we thinking about changing an initial reaction that people have to change? they’re too busy thinking about the personal impact as they listened to the message, their vision, et cetera. So what are the key steps you could take to start off with, to be more successful?

And where it’s been successful is describe to people first what is not changing. If you describe what’s not changing, that’s giving them some reassurance. It’s giving them an anchor point. And make the group, whether it’s the sales team, the marketing team, whichever, may some more open to the idea of change because they’ve got some familiarity to hang on to.

Why I say that is because the executives are always looking at the big picture, and if you think about having a group photo, the professional photographer, photographer looks at this, has a group photo says, says the competition, I’m really happy with it. When you get a group photo, the first thing you do is think about how does this affect me? Did I have my eyes shot? Was I looking in the right place? And that is the overall instinctive reaction to any sort of change is that same behavior? Yes, we can see the big picture, but we’re not interested in the big picture just yet. We’re interested in me. To move on to say, yeah, we’ve got everything.

We know what’s not changing. Here’s the vision, here’s the clarity about what the end goal is for our business. The what, the why, the when, and again, tying that back to the personal impact. So as a result, this change, if we want to be positive about it, whatever that change might be, we might have some better business processes we might have at tools.

We might serve our customers better. But that’s going to have a benefit that I can relate to as an individual, as it is being affected by this change and you want to be to actively participate in this change. So what’s the benefits to me and what’s the benefits to my area of responsibility by taking that.

Yeah, it could be as simple as, if we do this change, we expect to be the top team. We expect the max out, our commissions. We expect to serve a lot more customers or whatever it may be, but make it more tangible to what I do in my role rather than what the organization is going to achieve.

We set the vision and we’ve said, what’s not changing? And then it’s in that collaborative phase, and where we see a lot of pushback and issues is people get defensive. Yeah. If somebody asks a question or says, “Oh, why is it this way? Why are they not that way?” If we get defensive about that, then we build a reset areas.

We build resistance and therefore we have a risk and what Lea as leaders and change agents, I think what we need to do is think about any of these questions, any of these pushbacks, they could just be an expression of how can we make this change happen. And I think that’s a key point. And then it’s about putting the supports in place.

Have we got the tools? Is the training there? How have we foreseen some of the risks, some of the questions, and fill that in? So effectively we’ve got the framework, we’ve got the roadmap where we go, we’re not trying to build a ship. I will say it again. And I think as we spoke previously,communicate often.

Reflect back to the why. The vision always wants to be part of that ongoing communication about we’re doing this, we’re communicating about that because why? And a bit of celebration as we go through this change gives people a positive outlook that this is going to be successful. It’s going to move our company forward, it’s going to give me more opportunities, whatever that may be, how that’s going to work.

And I think the risk there is if we don’t provide that communication and that level of detail. People instinctively fill in the blanks. And when you’re muttering at the coffee shop about filling in the blanks, we generally, as a population does go up, we generally go down. We’ll always fill in the blanks with the negatives, which will then next time we talk about it, create barriers, et cetera.

It becomes self fulfilling. So if we fill in the blanks of the change agents of the leadership team, then we’re going to reduce that opportunity to have to get derailed in our change. Fantastic. 

Arianne Emdad: Yeah. Jeremy absolutely loved the photograph, comparison. I think that’s so accurate. Such a good description of change and how it affects us locally.

The other thing that we see working with customers who are all managing some degree of change in their sales organization is a tendency to overemphasize the outcome and really miss emphasizing the specific behaviors that need to shift. Outlining a from to change vision where you’re really describing.

These are the things that are shifting. it’s not just about getting to this end goal. It’s about the little changes that we all make along the way. Are you moving from selling products to selling solutions? Are you used to selling as an individual and now you need to sell in a team environment?

Are you telling your new enterprise level story as a result of an acquisition or, trying to elevate the discussion to an executive business level conversation. Those are changes that need to occur to get to an outcome. But if we just talk about the outcome, people will fill in the blanks with how they think they should get there.

It’s going to create some, just some separation within, within the organization at a time where you really need unity. The other thing I think is really important is equipping frontline managers. The first point of resistance is going to be, the rep to the manager, and if that frontline manager doesn’t know what to expect and doesn’t know how to message about what’s changing, what’s not, then you’re going to have some, some chaos that exists throughout the organization.

How can you start with the frontline managers? Make sure they really understand, they know what their role is, they know how to equip their teams. and then from there, just sharing the examples of. Of people doing it right and of having success, I think really, makes a difference when you’re talking about leading big organizational changes.

Shawnna Sumaoang: No, those are some great best practices. And I’m glad that you brought up the point of behavior change. Sales Enablement PRO actually did a report recently where we went out and we asked sales enablement professionals, what are the metrics that you are tracking with regard to training? And I was surprised to see that only 16% came back and said that they were actually trying to measure things like behavior change and competency.

And I realized that those are. A little bit more difficult, to really nail down with a specific metric. But I would love to hear from each of you — how have you helped to ensure that training actually results in behavior change and competency improvement across. Arup, I’d love to start with you.

Arup Chakravarti: Sure. The interesting thing here is that, when you talk one-on-one to sales enablement professionals or learning and development professionals, I think there’s an absolute desire to be able to measure that behavioral change, right? So the 16%, I don’t think is by any means an expression of the desire or even within the actual discipline, the ability to think about what needs to be measured. I think actually the discipline is really well advanced, right? And there is an increasing requirement of that discipline to be able to. To be able to actually show it’s return, right?

It’s a return on investment. So we’re spending money on this function and what it actually gives us in return. So the ability to be able to measure outcomes, behavioral outcomes. I think that’s really important, right? Because. Going from a learning program all the way through to typically, I mean, obviously the challenge with trying to find the right metrics and the right KPIs is that oftentimes it’s quite noisy.

It’s quite noisy in terms of the information. It’s quite noisy in terms of the data. And what you end up with is this very arbitrary approach where you look at a training program or a learning program, some sort of change program, and the only real measure that you have is much, much lagged revenue or some type of and outcome sales or commercial result.

Right. And, and, and there’s a whole bunch of stuff in between that you’re trying to diagnose, you’re trying to decompose. You’re trying to understand how that behavior changed. If you’re able to really. Et cetera, et cetera. And I think that’s the challenge. It’s being able to identify some of those instead of lagging indicators of value.

Maybe some of the leading indicators that take you towards that ultimately lagged revenue, commercial, whatever number of widgets sold outcome, whatever the case may be. It’s about finding the right leading indicators and then actually being able to. Figure out the right way of measuring that. And I’ve certainly found over the last two years, and this has been really interesting, that, the place where you end up capturing those leading indicators is typically within CRM.

So I actually found that in many respects I think my view around CRM and CRM adoption strategy historically has been, it’s the CRM team’s responsibility, increasing the IC learning and development and sales enablement as being key partners towards driving them. Because, and I’ll throw a stat back at you actually, cause I was looking at this idea today.

This is a stat from Forrester where, from a survey that they completed in Q4 of last year, 67% of the leadership respondents within that survey, this is like 1000, 200 odd people that they’d serve it, serve, surveyed in totality, responded back saying: There are sales agents just had no confidence in the CRM system and no confidence in the consistency of the sales process, right?

So if you’re trying to find some of those leading behaviors, it needs to be engineered through oftentimes a CRM system. It needs to be done in lock step with learning and development, or with the sales enablement team, so that there’s a real key clear design in terms of. What are those programmatic outcomes?

How can you identify some of those behavioral changes that you’re expected to see? And then how do you go about ensuring that that is woven into the process and, and that effectively your, your agents who are individuals, whatever are you exhibiting the right behavior. And once you start to, to have that land into place, then you have the opportunity to start to measure it.

And in due course, you can of course track that all the way through to revenue and few. Yeah, 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I absolutely agree. Jeremy, I’d love your take on this. 

Jeremy Noad: Yeah, I think there’s two points. There’s one of the technology approach and I think he does link to what, what your system of used is for your customer.

So normally CRM with things added to it and how we engage and use that tool effectively. He’s a mixture of measuring a number of inputs and behaviors, and we find you train them on the sales process. We use the CRM system. How many times do they call up the help? How many times do they have to engage?

Walk me. Well, the options are available to help them support through the process, whether that’s setting appointments, whether that’s setting a, a task or working opportunities. So we look at the macro impact. So anonymized data of usage and adoption. So we say, okay, we’re going to train you on the latest pricing tool.

Then we look for how many support calls, how many glitches, how many times we have to launch their help tools to say, okay, how’s that knowledge being internalized? Because we’re highly recognizing. I think it’s quite a common knowledge, which is this after some workshop training or any sorts of training, if you don’t apply it after 30 days, 80% of it’s gone.

How do we reinforce that? We looked at the different ways of doing it. So we say, every time you do a training, we attend the training, we take recommendations being trained, who’s done a knowledge test, how did they do? And then what’s the coaching plan. From a behavioral side of it, we go and say, from, from, from a sales enablement sales objective side, has everybody got in their coaching plan?

something about whatever the latest training is. Is that part of the ambition to embed those behaviors? Because we follow up model, so says the knowledge is provided. Yeah. You learn the behaviors by applying the knowledge in real life support to by your sales manager, your coach or mentor that helps you build the skills you become competent and go on on, on are not.

We broaden things out to say, say, okay, it’s enough to do the training and to use the tool or, or use the process, the methodology and the negotiation skills, whatever that may be. Practice it in the field with your coach and your customers. And build up a portfolio of evidence about how you are applying your new knowledge with these customers and that portfolio evidence along with your hard numbers is something that we will look together as a community and say, okay, who is done the training, displayed the behaviors, achieve the results.

Yeah. Okay. Now we feel that trained and certified in that process. And until we reached that point where they had the knowledge that put it into practice and it’s become part of their behaviors. Measuring those steps of the inputs, then we look at “how did they do?” Because that depends on markets and recessions and growth, et cetera.

But how do they apply the behaviors through the steps and building a body of, we call it the body of evidence may sound a bit over the top, but how do we build that together to show that. We’re embedding and taking the trading that we want to use. And the final point we always look for is an expiry date.

So yeah, you find your trained your spade, but let’s go again because there might be new learnings to have, or you forget what you did well to get where you are today. I think 

Shawnna Sumaoang: that that combination is great. That’s fantastic. Now, I think there was a McKinsey and Co report that said, when people are really invested in change, it’s 30% more likely to stick.

And I would love some insights or maybe tips and tricks on getting sellers inspired, to buy into the change management initiatives. Ariana, can we start with you. 

Arianne Emdad: Yeah, for sure. The, what’s exciting about sales and selling environments is that there’s energy, and people love to hear success stories.

Especially from other successful sellers. So if there’s a way to capture what has been working and share that through video where people can see, somebody that they respect and admire, who has made the shift. And, Let the person who has made the shift tell their own story to the rest of the sellers, being impacted is greater than just having a leader or someone who’s in a non sales role.

Talk about why the shift is important or what they would like to see. Another big piece is just aligning incentives and making sure that the changes that you are asking from the team members are also contemplated in their comp plan. And you’ve really thought about how the new behaviors that you want the sales team to execute are going to translate into.

their compensation. And that’s an important motivator for sales and one that can really be used to help cement and reinforce the changes that you want to see happen. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: We’ve talked a lot about the importance of effective communication. and I think if you were to ask most people within an organization if they feel like they’re well versed in the company’s goals and strategies for change, my guess is less than half of wouldn’t, simply because they’re, they, they might have been told, but maybe they’re not bought in and they don’t fully understand it. What are some of the ways in which you guys have successfully, communicated out to the organization about your change initiatives? What are some best practices and tips and tricks that you have? Arup, I’d love to start with you. 

Arup Chakravarti: So I just, I use a really simple 3M model. Right. Which is: media, message, and market. Effectively channel of communication, the content that you’re communicating, and obviously the audience that you’re communicating to, and just being able to ultimately flex all of those three dimensions depending on, again, on. On who and when and where. so I’m kinda going through that right now actually.

So we are in the process of absorbing a recently purchased entity and to our company. There are a number of areas within that company that I’m going to start to absorb the responsibility perspective. It’s a busy, right? I think everybody is super busy at the moment, exceptionally busy at the moment.

One of the things that I’m trying to ensure that I don’t fall behind on is that process of communication. Just ensuring that there isn’t a vacuum of, that’s, there isn’t like a communication vacuum there. There isn’t a water cooler moment at the moment, at the moment, right?

It’s all like this. It’s all virtual. So, sometimes that helps, because that actually means that when the dog is behaving, I’m working in a very relaxed and quiet environment. But it also is quite difficult because it lends itself increasingly towards. Potentially having some communication vacuums, but, but it’s exactly that.

It’s to who do I need to talk to? Is that somebody senior within the organization? Is that just the case of fostering a relationship? So it may not even necessarily be taking anything in terms of a presentation or any content that’s written down. If I’m literally just broaching into a brand new relationship.

to, to try and understand the organization and how to best navigate through it. What’s the right approach? What am I trying to gain as an objective out of that conversation, and it’s all of those types of interactions that then start to. To help inform what the communication strategy should be.

I genuinely have no idea what their internal communication program looks like. Do they have something formal? Do they not? What are the calendar events? Do they have formal town halls or hands called team meetings, et cetera, et cetera. It’s trying to understand all of that dynamic so that I can start to layer in the appropriate strategy. 

Won’t go right, the strategy, communication strategy, and then start to allow that. I’ve got the right interaction points with the right people that my team are, again, appropriately linked up with, with the appropriate counterparts, et cetera, et cetera. And, and, and, and, and that’s fundamentally, I think  just having that right approach towards what’s your channel of communication, what are you trying to say?

And, making sure that those are flexed to, depending on the audience that you’re trying to bring it to. Of course I use a top down style in terms of ensuring that management of Boyle 10 and that they function. Not only are they bought in, but that they function as, as another channel, another conduit of communication into, into the wider organization.

But for me, I come from a grassroots perspective, so, I do also want to ensure that I’m talking to as many of the new organization, sales agents, et cetera, et cetera. And again, that will be through team meetings and just being able to foster the right relationships with the leadership structure so I can insert myself into those conversations as appropriate.

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that. I love the 3M approach. Jeremy, do you want to add onto this? 

Jeremy Noad: Yeah. I think my mind might go across as a little bit out of the box. But we’re trying to move towards making a story about our change initiatives. And I don’t know whether you’re familiar with this, but if you think about something such as star Wars, you’ve got the hero being Luke, the guide being Obi Wan, the bad guy being Darth Vader, that sort of story mapped to spur and what we’re trying to do with these change initiatives.

So, we could just say, “yeah, We’ve got a content management system. We’re going to go and use this company that’s a change and has all the training of how to press the buttons.” But what we’re trying to do now is positioning to say, okay, what’s the story behind this? And the vision of the content management solution is.

We want to be able to make sure our customers have the best possible information to support them to improve their business and you to have the best possible information so you can talk to that customer effectively and that will help you achieve your quotes, beat your commissions and things like that.

We’re trying to take a story approach to these things and start with the vision and the why, but map out the communications to say, okay. This is the starting point. We realize it’s going to get messy. This is the endpoint. We’re going to go on this and for each affected group, whether it’s the it team, whether it’s the sales team, the sales enablement team, maybe a slightly blended different approach to how we’re going to go through that change cycle together.

How are we going to guide them and support them through the tools, through training, through understanding it, but keeping that goal in mind about where we want to get up to. I’m making that a little bit more meaningful than we are buying a bit of kit to make our life better. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that. I love the storytelling approach.

I think people learn a lot better when it comes in the formula story. So, we are at time, and this is a fantastic conversation, but I want to make sure that we, you each get a chance to leave our audience with a key takeaway that you really want them to be able to walk back to their organization with, and, and really be a lot more successful in their next change initiative.

Let’s start with you Ariana again. 

Arianne Emdad: Yeah, sure. One of my favorite quotes that I’ve heard, one of our delivery consultants share is that training events don’t change people, they just prepare people for change, and. When I think about leading large organization wide changes, it’s helpful to think about what you’re going to do to prepare for the change, what you’re going to do during the change, and what you’re going to do post change to reinforce.

What can we get sellers thinking about, to prepare them for what’s going to happen in a training event? What can we do during the event to make that really experiential, give them really practical tools that they can apply to their opportunity, their accounts. and then after, what do you do to keep momentum?

how can you prevent teams from just. Falling into business as usual. And I’m getting a lot of head nods in, in an event or in a town hall meeting and then seeing it, not stick post-training. How can you involve the frontline managers and issue challenges that can create excitement and keep the focus on the behaviors that you’re trying to shift.

Sometimes we get too celebratory after we’ve launched the change and we forget that just the work is not done. And, it’s helpful just to have some mile marks so that you know, Oh, we’re on the right track. We set these leading indicators, we set these target performance metrics, and we’re seeing that we’re either on course or we need to course correct.

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that. Jeremy, how about you? 

Jeremy Noad: It’s around the community aspect of it. Anybody who’s complained about having too much communication, I mean, Uber communicating to it’s always basically things, et cetera. So I think it’s communication, and I think the sustainability around communication is as we move through the change, we start to communicate our success and achievements through the new way.

And if we’re successful in the old way or backside and things like that, yes, thank you. We’ll take the money or the benefit of it. But that’s not something we’re going to talk about. We’re not going to communicate. We’re not recognized, because otherwise we’re just going to slip back into the old way, which doesn’t match how we want to take our business forward.

So that communicates a lot. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that one and Arup close with you.

Arup Chakravarti: Thank you. I’d say, have, have a mentor or have amantadine. I think change is a difficult process. For me, having someone that I can go and talk to that functions as a sounding board, somebody that’s not in my organization, that I have a trusted relationship with going and talking to him about some of the change initiatives and getting his objective viewpoint.

That’s, that’s been really beneficial. And again, as I said at the top of the call, I’ve been through some experiences that weren’t successful. That one positive. And actually I think sometimes having somebody as a sounding board in that regard can just help you reflect and just get you back to an even keel.

That’s what I would suggest. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that. Well, again, thank you to three of you for joining us today. I do want to open it up to audience Q & A. For folks that have questions, go ahead and type it into the question section and we’ll send it along to our speakers for answers.