It’s common among sales professionals to stick to what works. Sales managers in particular are guilty of this—encouraging their teams to use tried and true techniques that have worked for them in the past.
The problem is that we aren’t living in the past—we’re living in a constantly changing present, where tried and true methods don’t always work. We’re in a time when Buyers make up their mind well before talking to a salesperson, leading some companies to ask if salespeople are even needed anymore.
Your sales team and your company can only keep up if they adapt new techniques and strategies to stay relevant to Buyers. Unfortunately, implementation is often met with resistance. If you’re in the C-suite, you may be willing to try new things, but you often find your managers or the sales teams are resistant to change.
That’s where certain Lean Thinking principles can help. For the problem of people pushback, a particularly relevant Lean Thinking concept is Consensus Decision Making.
How often have you tried to implement a new policy or procedure, only to have the majority of your team completely ignore it? How often have you found unanticipated issues in a plan once you started to implement it, increasing the roll-out time for a new strategy? How often do you sense significant resistance from your sales team using new tools or techniques?
Stop and ask yourself: how often do you really consult with your sales team before making big changes in policy and procedure? Do you think your sales team feels like it had a hand in these decisions?
A very important topic for senior management is how to keep the sales team engaged and motivated. Prizes, commissions, peer pressure—these tactics can all be effective in their own way. But they won’t create the deep loyalty or drive that really spurs teams on in the clutch. Lack of company loyalty (and a feeling that they have to fend for themselves) can be behind the procedural sabotage you sometimes encounter when trying to implement new ways of doing things.
When you use Consensus Decision Making, however, you bring your sales team on board to participate in shaping the decisions being made. Sure, coming to a consensus before rolling out new processes might take a bit longer, but the implementation will be much faster and smoother as a result. Your new sales participants will likely identify problems you didn’t consider, avoiding lengthy delays so common when implementing new strategies.
Consensus Decision Making has been around for a while, but seldom referred to as such. It’s commonly suggested as a way to improve employee engagement in white papers, blogs, and Pulse articles—just under different names. Don’t just cherry-pick the parts of the concept you feel comfortable implementing. You’ll see the best results by incorporating a holistic consensus decision making approach.
Encouraging your sales team to be a part of the planning process makes them feel like they “own” the changes taking place. It’s empowering. And empowered employees are productive employees.
Feeling that they have a hand in how new policies and procedures are decided and implemented results in more satisfied team members. They feel respected by the company and management, and are more likely to go beyond the “minimum required.” It will increase loyalty in a lasting and impactful way.
Beyond making the implementation of a new strategy or technique faster to roll out, Consensus Decision Making has far reaching benefits for your entire sales team. You stand to gain from implementing this Lean Thinking concept—try it out for yourself, and share your results with others in the Lean Selling LinkedIn group.
You can sign up for my free 12-week series, Lean Learnings, to learn about additional concepts you can implement within your organization by filling in the form below.
About: Robert Pryor is a Lean Selling author and community builder as well as a CEO, speaker, and educator on cutting-edge sales processes. His new book is Lean Selling: How to Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want. Follow by joining the LinkedIn Group “Lean Selling” or on Twitter @LeanSelling.