New Roles for Sales Managers “Process with Structure”
” If you don’t have a strategy, you will be permanently reactive and part of someone else’s strategy.” Alvin Toffler, author Future Shock
Definition of Structure:
Structure is an entity or whole system (organization, department, team etc.) made up of parts (reward systems, values, workload, resources, allocation of budgets, market position, sales funnel and so on) that dynamically creates energy that facilitates success by forming interdependent relationships between goal orientated individuals. Structure helps the parts of an organizations function together in predictable ways to achieve high levels of performance. Most people think that structure means organization charts, boxes and reporting lines/relationships this is as helpful as saying people are skeletal structures as displayed in x rays.
Why new structural roles needed:
- Increased customer demands and expectations of sales organizations to understand their business goals and marketplace needs
- Want salespeople to be more business minded and consultative by providing solutions for business and market challenges and changes.
- Want more customized and creative solutions that help organization reach their market goals for increasing revenues and improved productivity.
- Sales managers must develop new skills of strategy, field marketing communications coaching/training and coalition building with other departments in order to help sales people succeed in the future.
- Customer is King and don’t ever forget.
Insyn Roles: “Form (role) follows structure”
- Strategist– skill in defining the future imperatives of industries and marketplace by identifying opportunities, messages and partnerships that need or want companies products and services. Also, the ability to identify new sales structures that will support changes in the makeup of the workforce and demands of the market place.
- Coalition Builder– focus on improved communications, network building and collaborative interpersonal skills
- Coach/mentor– provide support and direction for market changes and help in securing long-term customer relationships
- Advocate-for change/ change masters- Understanding the dynamics of change and reasons for implementation failure. Understanding requires us to gather information and insights about structures that facilitate change strategies and implementation requires us to be thoughtful, disciplined, sensitive and creative in executing change processes or projects.
Issues for the Future
Predicting the direction and speed of change within sales organizations is clearly risky and difficult. Having a vision for the future becomes critical when trying to anticipate the direction of markets and consequently their needs and an organizational structure that would best serve those critical customer needs. It is important for organizations to learn from their competitors and other industry leaders rather than just reacting to the next wave of change. Complex markets and rapid change will test organizations’ willingness to risk and their ability to have foresight based on past experiences and openness for the “brave new world”. With the increased complexity of the world in the Information Age, sales leaders are going to have to manage on the edge of chaos on a global level. The skills of information gathering, dissemination, and handling multidisciplinary tasks will be critical for future success. In today’s business environment, the threat of competition can come from any direction. If your company focuses too narrowly on the wholesale food business, you miss FoodBrokers.com. Focus on cutting costs and competing in your traditional business sector, you miss revenue opportunities through direct selling; Dell Computer.
One of the major imperatives facing sales managers is to help their company create the best sales organization structure which will produce at the level of accomplishments and experience you want. So often change projects have failed because managers think the future must be an extension or tweaking of the past. Any evolutionary changes we attempt to make that do not take the structural issues (present situation vs future desired states) into account will not work.
- Change in organization structure changes organizational roles, relationships, and behavior. Example 1 Realigning of the steering on our car will change steering behavior immediately, automatically and naturally without a second thought. Want to drive and steer straight just put hands in balanced position on the wheel. This behavior of balanced hand placement will only work if the underlining structure (steering alignment) supports the new hand positions. The misalignment of car steering (structure) makes the wheels pull the car to the right. We compensate by turning steering wheel to the left so we can go straight. Example 2 Change bonus compensation from individual bonuses to department bonuses. Behavior between employees becomes more supportive. In difficult times everyone pulls together and is less preoccupied about their individual rewards. Miraculously, excuses and blame for poor results disappear.
- Good ideas and good people are subject to and guided by the power of underlining structures, which are sometimes hard to see or articulate. Structures either push organization ahead toward their goals, or increase malingering between change to desired goals and present situation or keep organization stuck in the current situation.
- What if our excuses were replaced by intended and purposeful behavior that supported and were aligned with underlining structural integrity? Positive energy moves were it is easiest to go—be observant of underlining tension and conflicts, which are symptomatic of structural problems. Example, the flow of water through a creek bed follows the path of least resistance. Build a barrier in the river and the water naturally and automatically finds away around the barrier.
- Clear vision of result wanted. Create a process that establishes a future vision by focusing on present realities and actions/steps needed to be executed to achieve results wanted.
Implications: Questions to ponder
How do executives flooded with present problems and realities identify structures that are pushing for or restricting their organization from changing?
- What type of skills and competencies will high performing sales managers have to possess to succeed in achieving future organizational goals?
- How does strategic planning and coaching fit into this structural change model?
- What approaches can be implemented to overcome the cynical attitude toward change in many organizations?
If business challenges lead to pressure and pressure leads to stress a logical but fruitless endeavor is to work harder for change. Albert Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
List the things you and your organization have done in the last five years to improve sales. What have been the results? If you are like most organizations you have tried TQM, reengineering and other business function change processes. What we learn from these experiences is that failure is not the fault of the content of the change processes but that the underlining structure did not support these processes within the organization. This observation has led me to develop an sales organizational change framework called “Process with Structure” which helps identify the true causes of successful and unsuccessful change projects. The implications for sales managers is to make sure that when attempting change you must remember that structure is as important as processes and content in producing effective change projects.
In order to make a difference in the future and institute positive change you need time to diagnosis the current reality before trying to identify strategies and tactics for change. Focus on and get clarity on the present in order to setup a process for future change. Until you get clear on the present many of your efforts will be frustrating and useless.
Once you know where you want to go and where you are now, your planning will become focused purposeful and action orientated. The creation of a positive action force field follows clear thinking about the present and future desired states. The action force field sets up the structure and discipline for creating positive change process focus on transformation and not protecting the “status quo”.. This “Process with Structure “ sets up singleness of purpose and a commitment to excellence. As Vince Lombard once said,”Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”