Human Element of Change

A few weeks ago a client asked if I would make a presentation to their sales staff. The subject of the presentation was the lead management process changes we had made at their company after implementing the Silverpop Engage B2B Marketing Automation Solution.  The changes that were made were put in place to improve lead quality, make marketing more effective and ultimately help sales become more productive.

During the course of the presentation I was able to show the sales reps how these changes would benefit them, how they would have more insight into the leads they would receive, and how they would potentially be able to increase their sales numbers.  Sales management backed up my presentation by letting the reps know that they had been part of developing the new process and that they were excited about the forthcoming changes.   It was not long into the discussion when the reps began asking questions.  One rep seized the opportunity, leaned over to a colleague and said loud enough to be heard “but this is NOT how we currently do things.”  And there it was . . . the fear of change!

Most people do not like change.  Most will balk when presented with the challenge to do something different. And even though process changes and implementing automation will improve sales outcomes and marketing effectiveness, many a sales/marketing executive don’t see that as a big enough benefit to warrant changing their behavior.   So, it’s important to understand that the component of human change management cannot be overlooked when it comes to developing new processes and implementing new technologies. 

Organizations that decide to develop or improve their lead management processes to become best-in-class marketing and sales organizations need to prepare for the inevitable initial resistance.  One way to reduce the resistance is to make sure that BOTH sales and marketing are part of developing the new processes.  Doing so will allow them to endorse the process and lead the way in their respective organizations as evangelists.  Conversely, companies that embark on process change via a one-sided approach (sales or marketing only) will experience an uphill battle when introducing the changes, and will risk not having long term effectiveness.