Change is difficult whether it is personal or work-related. Organizations also struggle to successfully guide their employees through change. Studies have shown that 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, mostly due to employee resistance and lack of management support. But when people are committed to change, success is 30% more likely.
To help employees navigate change and reach a point where they accept it, it’s helpful to understand the psychology of the Change Curve. This curve explains the emotional process your staff experiences whenever there is a change they need to adjust to. They may be shocked or in denial initially. Then they may fear what the change or new procedure means and how it will impact them. Once they work through that they try to find the path of least resistance, expending minimal effort required. This starts while they are going through their initial training. As they begin to get more comfortable with the new situation, they gradually get on board, realizing this change is here to stay. And, finally, they embrace the change and productivity improves.
This may make sense, but Account Management Leaders still make mistakes that delay progress through the change curve when implementing new strategies. These errors result in employees’ failure to change, reducing your results. To ensure successful implementation, keep the following tips in mind so you can help your Key Account Managers (KAMs) through the transition until they embrace the new process.
Address why the change
It’s essential that you explain why a change is necessary and beneficial to your organization. So, seek buy-in from individuals at every level of your organization to ensure the change goes as smoothly as possible. Your employees are more likely to accept and embrace a change when they understand why it has to happen. Tell them how the new strategy will fulfill a need for your business and what value it will bring. And define the benefits in terms of every level and department. This tells them individually, “what’s in it for me” and gives them something to look forward to at the end of the project. Without this understanding, change is an uphill battle. But when you create a big compelling picture for why you need to do something different, change is much easier.
Failure to set up reinforcement strategies
You can have the perfect plan that fits together nicely, then complete onboarding and training on new software successfully, but your new strategy can still fail by the middle of the year. This is where your reps stop doing things like filling out account plans, meeting regularly with customers, and completing account reviews.
To avoid failure before completing implementation, you need to plan for continued training, routine check ins, and reminders while monitoring progress throughout the year. That’s because everyone involved is developing new habits and skills. And this takes time. People learn at different rates and have different backgrounds, so some will need more training and assistance than others to successfully make the transition. Encourage open communication about training and provide additional resources and support to those who need it. This will increase adoption and minimize employee turnover.
No measurement or goals in place
Account Management leaders love numbers and the best way to prove value is to show how you are tracking to your goals as an organization. So, work with your consultant or provider to establish measurable and actionable 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals. And even if you believe your goals will be realized, you’re bound to lose focus on them if you aren’t tracking your progress. Be sure to mark your accomplishments, progress, and growth as you strive to reach your goals. Then celebrate the positive results. Doing so will keep your team energized and enthusiastic about the new strategy while inspiring them to continue advancing toward the desired end goal.
Ask for feedback too quickly
Account Management leaders alter the change management plan based on feedback from the field too early. This often leads to plans being abandoned or unnecessarily changed based on the will of the sales reps. You need to give your employees time to see the value and benefits of the new strategy. Before that the change hasn’t had sufficient time to change your employees’ hearts and minds. Instead of rushing it, check in with your employees after a week of using the new tools. Meet with them as a team to gather feedback and understand their thoughts on using the tool. Then follow up on a routine basis. This feedback can help identify needs for additional training or finetuning of new processes to meet your organization’s needs.
Change is a process that takes time. Avoid making these mistakes to ensure you successfully implement your new strategies and realize your goals. Take the time to help your employees understand why a change is needed and what benefits they’ll receive when the change is complete. Provide ample continuous training, support, reminders, and reinforcement to help your staff work through the change process. Establishing and measuring progress toward goals helps keep everyone on board and excited throughout the process. And remember to give your employees a chance to get onboard with the change process. Don’t be too quick to request feedback or abandon plans as a result. Giving them time allows them to see the value of the new tool. Then gathering input on a routine basis allows for minor adjustments along the way.
Don’t do it alone. Kapta has helped many organizations establish and improve their Key Account Management programs. Find out how we can help. Schedule a demo to speak with one of our engagement experts.