Managing Sales Force Change
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This research report summarizes findings from 55 participating business-to-business sales organizations. The research was conducted in the first quarter of 2013 through the use of a survey ...
This research report summarizes findings from 55 participating business-to-business sales organizations. The research was conducted in the first quarter of 2013 through the use of a survey questionnaire.
Research objectives include determining the frequency and intensity of sales force change initiatives; the amount of expected future sales organization change; organizational perceptions of change efficacy; key areas targeted for change; management practices in directing change initiatives; and leadership’s priorities for implementing sales force change.
In total, respondents see little difference in expected change intensity when comparing the next 18 months over the previous 18 months. Mean change intensity ratings for past and future change are approximately equal, at 4.89 and 4.92, respectively on a seven-point scale (where 1 = “we won’t change anything,” and 7 = “everything will change”).
A distribution of change intensity ratings, however, indicates that a significant number of firms have undergone greater change in the past 18 months than they expect to enact in the next 18 months.
Larger firms anticipate more organizational changes in the future than smaller firms. Change intensity ratings analyzed by firm size show that organizations with more than 200 salespeople expect greater changes in the next 18 months than they experienced in the prior 18. Smaller firms, in contrast, anticipate less future change than that experienced in the past 18 months.
Sales training represents the area requiring the most change in the view of respondents. Yet respondents are less likely to make changes to sales training than they are to the sales coverage model or sales headcount. This discrepancy surfaced when we asked respondents to provide ratings for what "should” change and similarly rate the likelihood of what "will" change in their organizations.
Respondents did not believe any activity we asked them to rate was changing without corresponding need; in other words, no aggregate rating of “change expected” was greater than the aggregate rating of “change needed.”
Of topics rated, those with the smallest gap between “change needed” and “change expected” were sales headcount, product and service offering, sales strategy, and sales job design.
Those rated activities with the largest gap between “change needed” and “change expected” were sales training, non-technology sales support investment, performance measures, and technology.
Differences exist in perceived appropriateness of sales organization change, based on job role and seniority. The amount of change required seems positively correlated with management seniority, in the view of our respondents. Salespeople believed their organizations were changing far too much; heads of sales too little; and sales managers somewhere in between (though clearly on the "too much change" side).
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