Misalignment and confusion are the biggest barriers when it comes to adoption of change in a sales enablement organization. – but how do you manage expectations and keep everyone on the same page?
We sat down with Timmy Hendrickson who put together his own sales enablement change log to solve this problem. He not only shared how he uses this log, but also his best practices for managing change in an organization. There are a lot of ways he has seen this go wrong, but he tells us that prioritizing communication and alignment give you the best chance at high change adoption.
Name: Timmy Hendrickson
Position: Sales Enablement Professional
What’s Your Background? I started my career in marketing, but quickly transitioned into sales because of the fast-paced, high-energy environment. While I was an individual contributor through most of my career, I always had my hand in some sort of enablement project. Whether it was helping onboard a new team member, working with other departments to launch a new product or process, or creating new go-to-market strategies, I was informally taking on a support role. Once I transitioned fully into enablement, I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be and I plan on staying here throughout the rest of my career.
Fun fact about yourself: I recently started a YouTube channel called Sunday Sales Staples, which covers a different piece of a sales process each week. The intention is to publish short weekly videos that are easily digestible with clear action items that sellers can begin doing today.
For the people who aren’t aware - what problem does a sales enablement change log solve?
Change management helps drive the successful adoption of change within a team or organization by enabling employees with the information required to comprehend and commit to the new process, tool, or workflow. Without proactive and efficient change management, transitions can run into unforeseen issues, cost the company a lot of time and resources, and cause frustration for everyone involved.
In order for a team to make organizational change effectively, it’s important to outline the steps required to complete the transition, but this can be difficult to organize and keep track of.
A Change Management Log is used to outline the project, assign owners to various tasks, set target dates for accomplishing each step to the desired end state, and track the progress of the change after it has been implemented. This log can then act as a single source of truth for anyone within an organization looking for updates on tasks, dates, budgets, etc.
How can tasks get misaligned for sales enablement initiatives?
There are a number of reasons that tasks can get misaligned, the most common ones I’ve seen are:
1. Communication: In today’s world, people are busier than ever and they’re showing up to run a marathon every day at work. So, without effective communication across stakeholders, tasks for change management initiatives may be forgotten about and statuses may be unclear.
2. Front-Line Employee Buy-In: If you don’t have a few champions on your side to help you through the process, then things can get messy. Front-line reps are the ones dealing with prospects and customers daily over phone and emails or out in the field, so getting their input early in the process means that you can extract anecdotes or information you may not have had previously.
These are also the reps you’ll want as champions and beta testers throughout the Change Management process so that they can identify what may break or not work when the change is being implemented, which will set you up for a better implementation come launch date.
3. Commitment Across Stakeholders: Stakeholders will need to commit to the timelines and internal service-level agreements for the change management initiatives. As the one responsible for the change management process, enablement professionals are the ones making sure that leaders, cross-department stakeholders, and maybe even reps understand what is going to change, what their responsibilities are, and when they need to get them done.
4. Change-Resistant Culture: Change is never easy and some organizations may suffer from a change-resistant culture. They may have tried to execute changes in the past without success, which leads employees to feel like change is unwelcome. In these circumstances, it’s important to Start with the ‘Why’.
A lot of folks have quoted Simon Sinek over the years after his TedTalk on starting with why, but it’s a powerful start when it comes to Change Management, because when people understand why a change is happening, then they’re more likely to adopt these changes.
Using historical metrics and data, concrete stories and examples, and the future state of how things can be, helps to showcase why things need to change and how it is going to benefit the team. When people understand the value of the change, adoption becomes a little easier.
Why are clear task owners important?
There are two main benefits to assigning specific owners on a change management log:
- The first is accountability, because when clear owners are assigned you can hold people accountable for their action items.
- The second is for correct points of contact, because if no owners are assigned to action items, then stakeholders may constantly be asking the change enablement professional for updates on specific tasks.
While the change enablement leader should always know the status of the project, they can’t field frequent questions if they aren’t assigned to that specific task. Therefore, when owners are assigned to the tasks and it’s outlined in the change management log, then various stakeholders can tap the correct point of contact on the shoulder for updates, questions, ideas, etc.
Who is a change log mostly for - the sales enablement team, outside stakeholders, or the reps themselves?
Change Management Logs are typically for the Enablement/Sales Ops teams and Internal Stakeholders (sales leadership, cross-department stakeholders, company execs, etc). While reps usually don’t have access to the Change Management Log, it’s still important to communicate with them early and frequently so they are able to prepare for upcoming changes.
What’s the best way to manage this - weekly meetings? Daily stand ups?
A change enablement professional should be reviewing the Change Management Log daily and asking themselves questions like: Are there any updates from the previous day? Do I need to check-in with a stakeholder on their assigned action item? Did we identify an area that is going to cause us to be stuck? If so, then what does that mean for the target dates and roll out plan?
The great thing about Change Management Logs or GANTT Charts is that anyone in the organization is able to access it on their own time so if you have a question about the initiative’s roll out process, you can simply log into the change management log and see the status.
However, change management is not 100% asynchronous and sometimes you can’t rely on others to check-in on the change management log on their own time. For this reason, there should be some sort of frequent check-in with the team to make sure everything is on track, and depending on the size and scope of the project, this can be done daily, weekly or biweekly.
For example, if you’re implementing a tool like Salesforce for the first time, then Change Management could look like this:
- Daily standups for Enablement, Sales Ops, and Business Systems/IT
- Weekly status reports sent to the internal stakeholders with dedicated time during weekly 1:1s to discuss the project
- Weekly or Biweekly pre-launch meetings with your beta testers or power users (typically these are the front-line reps)
When using a change log for items on your team, how can you tell if things are going well, or not?
When change management logs are used correctly, people understand why a change is happening and they can clearly communicate it back to you. There is also alignment on the team on the status of the change, and stakeholders are completing their assigned tasks on time.
Ideally, you stay within the given timeframe and budget of a given project; however, if you do encounter unpredicted headwinds a well-managed change management process won’t make anyone sound the alarms. Your stakeholders will understand that updates or changes are a part of the process and the team is on top of it.
You might be able to tell that change management isn’t going well if there is confusion, frustration or low adoption around the change.
Final thoughts or advice?
Invest in tools like Asana, ClickUp, or Monday: While Change Management Logs or GANTT Charts in Google Sheets or Excel are manageable, the process becomes more automated when you invest in the right tools.
Adopt a Change Management methodology: There are a few change management methodologies out there and you can do some deeper digging on Google to research the best one for your organization. I would suggest IPECC (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing), ADKAR (Awareness, Desire Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement), or PPIME (Planning, Preparation, Implementation, Monitoring, Evaluation). These three methodologies are well-known and commonly used across change enablement professionals.
Make the Change Concrete: Outline the concrete changes that are going to take place within the organization so that people can wrap their heads around the change. When this is done well, you eliminate any confusion about what is expected of the individuals once the change takes place.
Don’t forget about post-launch resources and reinforcement: Building a comprehensive post-launch plan helps ensure that the team can identify where the information lives after launch is over. This can be done with a dedicated folder in your company’s content management system. Link the folder in a recap email to the organization, and then shoot a reminder message on Slack so that you can meet your team where they are.
Leadership is also an important group to lean on here to help reinforce new changes. For example, if front-line employees have not adopted the new workflow, tool, or process, then present the data to management so that they can address during their frequently scheduled 1:1s.