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Sales Performance Improvement Trends for 2018 and Beyond: Finding the Right Balance to Make Change Initiatives Stick

We asked Sales Performance International executives and consultants what kind of changes we can expect to see for the sales profession in the coming new year and compiled their perspectives and opinions in our eBook, “Sales Performance Improvement Trends for 2018 and Beyond”.

Koen Abbeel is SPI’s Director of Customer Success Group in Europe.

What major trend do you see in your area of sales or learning performance expertise?
Companies are trying harder to strike the right balance between establishing centralized standards and procedures and the flexibility to tailor standards to local customs and nuances. Even companies with a centralized culture realize they may need to give a little to get local operations onboard and committed to change.

What is causing this trend?
There’s a well-known saying by Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” It means that even the most thoughtful strategies will fail if they pull the organization too far from what its cultural norms will allow. However, when it comes to adopting sales standards, some flexibility is needed because there are differences in how customers buy and the treatment they expect. More companies we work with acknowledge this reality and ask us to help tailor programs for different degrees of local relevance.

What opportunities or threats does the trend pose for businesses and sales organizations?
Companies that can strike the right balance between establishing central standards with enough local flexibility stand a greater chance of their change efforts succeeding at the local level. Conversely, companies that attempt to impose process or standards that do not make sense at a local level put their initiatives at greater risk of failure.

In light of the trend, what advice do you have for business and sales leaders?
It is important to understand first the impact of your change initiative at the local level. Does the change make sense to them and will it work given the local business customs and practices? Take a bit of extra time to think this through and, if possible, ask their perspective to build buy-in. It is also important to assess your corporate culture and decide just how much flexibility you want to offer. If you need to consider multiple localities you are going to have multiple iterations of the same thing. This approach will probably result in a better relevance and more buy-in, but there is also usually a cost of time and money for doing it this way. You will need to decide how much is enough.

Download our eBook “Sales Performance Improvement Trends for 2018 and Beyond” today!

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