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Thursday, 16 May 2013 14:49

Change Challenge: Sales Force Reorganization

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The situation:

A large pharmaceutical organization needed to implement a new selling model across a sales force of approximately 2000 people - without negatively impacting sales volume, even in the short term.

Several disparate sales teams representing different geographical regions were being combined to form one unified sales force.  Because individual sales force identity was very strong - sometimes even stronger than company brand identity - in the field, and the management structure was going to change significantly, this represented a major shift in the way the company handled its sales.

merging teams change management

Assessment:

The sales force was selling a commodity product in a highly competitive industry, which meant that even small changes to territories, processes or structure had historically led to significant drops in sales volume.  Additionally, because the sales force was large and spread across the country, changes could mean months of administrative disarray - which also led to steep declines in revenue.

Since this new selling model would include both territory and field structure changes, the risks were particularly high for this change initiative.

Strategy:

We recommended a 3-part approach:

  • A change communication plan focused on the role of senior management and senior field management
  • A change and transition plan including an indentity merger component, including a contest to come up with a name for the new, unified team
  • A management training plan focused on how field managers could handle the change effectively

Results:

  1. The change communication plan employed several different types of feedback loops, which encouraged all team members to participate effectively - which in turn created a positive business climate for the changes, in which junior sales force team members were set good examples by senior leadership
  2. The contest to choose a new name for the unified team drove healthy competition across regions, which fostered maintenance of sales volumes while emphasizing the 'one team' message
  3. The management training plan gave managers the tools to identify and understand where employees were in the change cycle and how to move employees through the process without negatively impacting sales volume

In the end, the majority of the sales force - from senior management to junior salespeople - thought the change was 'no big deal'.  In fact, even though the change represented quite a shift in the way the business managed sales, it was executed in a way that allowed people to move into the new selling environment without missing a beat.

Sales remained constant throughout the realignments, and even increased in some areas.  Sales management reported improved communication and increased morale across the entire sales force.  Sales in the first year following the change remained constant with no decline, and increased by 15% in the following year - which exceeded pre-change expectations.

 

Read 26984 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 04:54

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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