Sales transformation. It's a big, buzzy term that you hear all the time, but what does it really mean?

In some organizations, it's used as an umbrella term for any changes in how your organization handles its sales activities. This could include shifting your approach to customer interactions, redefining roles in the sales organizations, changing your marketing techniques, or even implementing new technologies to streamline processes.

In a nutshell, sales transformation is the process of changing the way your sales team interacts with prospects and customers to achieve a set goal.

Why do we need sales transformation?

Change is hard, but it's an essential part of growing and maintaining a strong sales organization. If sales transformation is approached correctly, your sales team will be better equipped to meet sales goals, and the organization as a whole will be more profitable.

Sales organizations have changed dramatically in recent years thanks to advances in technology, while customer buying journeys have become more complex. With the rise of cloud platforms, always-on communication, and usage-based pricing, organizations must reassess their sales approach to stay competitive.

Related article: How to Prepare Your SaaS Sales Ops for Usage-Based Pricing

How can you create a plan for your own sales transformation?

Creating an effective sales transformation plan can be a daunting task.

But like most large-scale endeavors, breaking it down into discrete steps will give you the confidence and courage to overcome doubt.

Step 1: Prepare to take risks

Before you set any goals or assemble your team, it's important to acknowledge that sales transformation is not an easy task.

Most transformations fail because organizations struggle to commit to tough decisions.

There's a bumpy road ahead, but as long as you have a clear goal, a strong team, and even stronger follow-through, you'll be happy you committed to a sales transformation.

In other words, this is going to be rough but trust the process.

Step 2: Assemble your transformation team

Sales transformations affect the entire organization, so it's important to get buy-in from department heads early in the process.

When building your team, consider team members who have considerable sway within your sales team. This will normally encompass sales leadership and management, but don't discount workers on the front lines, especially those guiding new employees.

Your transformation team should include key sales team members and leaders within periphery functions, such as marketing, customer success, revenue, and even IT. Without their insight, there may be some areas of opportunity that may go unseen.

Step 3: Audit your sales process

If you're planning a sales transformation, you know something's wrong, but have you taken the time to diagnose the problem?

Working with your team, take time to audit your sales process to identify areas of opportunity fully.

  • Are new reps being ramped properly?
  • Do sales teams have the tech or tools to meet the needs of potential customers?
  • Are marketing and sales messages aligned?

Once your pain points or areas of opportunities, you can begin setting goals and working backward to recommend a solution.

Related article: 4 Reasons It’s Time to Upgrade Your Sales Compensation Software

Step 4: Set your goals

It's essential to establish clear and concise goals for your sales transformation early on. This will help your team stay out of the weeds and strengthen your focus on the task at hand.

Your goals need to be focused on transformation outcomes. That means identifying and setting measurable goals that are based on data, not gut feeling.

Once your high-level goals are established, department leaders can pursue them by devising actionable targets for their team to attain.

All that being said, if market conditions shift considerably during your transformation, a goal reassessment may be prudent to help course-correct your transformation.

Step 5: Start at the top & work your way down

Sales transformation begins at the top. Leadership must embrace new ways of thinking before changes can happen throughout the sales organization.

Once leadership is on board, it is now their duty to disseminate the changes downstream to directors, managers, and eventually, sales reps themselves.

Don't expect linear progress. Your sales transformation will hit snags along the way. Team members must remain resilient and committed to change to see this transformation through.

If necessary, "shocks" to the system, such as new leadership or restructuring your organization, can help shake out stubborn habits and accelerate adopting new processes and tools.

Related article: 5 Reasons to Invest in Payroll Automation

Step 6: Track your progress

As your sales transformation progresses, be sure to take tabs on adoption and follow-through. Early in implementation, consider organizing weekly meetings with the department heads to get a gut check on progress and support unanticipated roadblocks.

This is your chance to make a mark and re-energize the trajectory of your organization — don't fumble it at the last yard.

As the transformation matures, check-ins will become less relevant. One day you'll realize the transformation has taken hold, and that's when you can finally pull out that bottle of champagne. Celebrate; you did it!

Ready to transform your sales process?

Sales transformation is essential for staying competitive in today's business landscape, but it doesn't happen overnight.

It would be best to create a plan, organize your transformation, start with the top of the organization and work your way down to get buy-in at all levels. For those tracking metrics already (and if not, then what are you waiting for?), getting access to data feeds as your source of truth can help identify opportunities and act on them quickly.

If you need source-of-truth data, one of the most impactful places to start is modernizing your approach to sales compensation management. Sales comp sits at the boundaries of sales, finance, and operations, making it a fertile ground for impactful changes to your organization.

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