Transformation: The secret sauce for running a transformation program

– Nov 2, 2021
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This is the third piece in a series of six articles that will guide your own sales and marketing transformation. This article shares the secrets to the right approach to adopt and common mistakes to avoid when undertaking a transformation. Don’t forget to read the first two articles in this series; It’s time for a sales and marketing transformation and setting your transformation up for success.

The starting point

Successful transformation programs are incredibly detailed and can be stressful and complicated to achieve. But as we have shown in previous articles, achieving a successful transformation can be broken down into a few key areas of focus.

Delivering the solutions that you have thoughtfully defined involves three elements to get right:

  1. The approach you choose to execute the transformation
  2. The team that is responsible for delivering the transformation
  3. The delivery team’s engagements with key company stakeholders

Achieving the right structure and team can be both art and science. However, we have created guidelines that will help ensure your program is set up for success from the start.

Transformation approaches – what you put in is what you get out

Common mistakes businesses make when approaching transformations

We have all witnessed half-hearted, poorly considered transformation programs that fail to deliver and leave organisations frustrated and fatigued. Certain failed approaches have a habit of coming up time and time again:

  1. The short cut: Implementing one solution in isolation as opposed to running a holistic program. For example, implementing a new CRM tool without properly defining or transforming business processes. This usually means moving many of the existing problems to a new tool, or missing the opportunity to update work-around processes to realise the full benefit of the new tool.
  2. The add-on: Change activities are added on top of people’s initial expectations, placing unreasonable strain on business leaders and staff. It also hurts the focus, resourcing and prioritisation given to the transformation.
  3. The team in a tower: An independent, centralised team executes the program isolated from the business. Consequently, the perspectives of front-line staff and subject matter experts are not incorporated into critical decisions.
  4. The set and forget: Implementation and change management activities post launch are overlooked or skipped. The critical changes required across business process, culture, sales behaviours etc. are not reinforced so the transformation is not successfully executed in full. Additionally, this means that the benefits and ROI of the transformation are not tracked or evaluated to identify further changes required to realise desired outcomes.

There are usually two reasons why a business adopts one of these failed approaches. Unsurprisingly, the first is to minimise costs. The second is to limit the impact to business-as-usual operations. These factors should never be overlooked, but short-term downfalls need to be evaluated alongside the long-term expected benefits. A transformation program should be designed so the benefits of the implemented solutions exceed the costs and disruptions born out of delivering the transformation.

Considerations for structuring a successful transformation approach

Each transformation program will appear different depending on the size and scale of the change, so there is no simple “perfect” approach. However, there are guidelines that will help to determine the right approach for running a transformation program.

Guidelines for a transformation program:

  • Implement solutions that fully consider people, process and technology
  • The (realistic) expected costs of running the program must be relative to the expected benefits. In other words, don’t embark on a mammoth transformation exercise to only build a new report, or don’t undercook the investment and expect big impacts.
  • Ensure adequate capacity in the transformation team so they can effectively execute within expected timeframes.
  • Remove roadblocks facing the transformation team and ensure they have access to necessary resources – either people or documentation.
  • Ensure change activities continue after technology solutions are implemented, measure the delivered benefits, and evaluate whether further change is required.

Teams make or break transformation delivery

The success of a transformation program is the responsible of the team executing it. The transformation team drives change through the organisation and have equal impact on the outcome of the transformation program as the quality of the work completed to understand the problem and identify solutions.

A successful delivery team must have the right set of diverse capabilities. Transformation teams need experts in the solutions being implemented and internal change champions who know the organisation in detail.

Effective engagement makes solutions stick

In addition to having the right mix of capabilities, a successful delivery team must engage with the right stakeholders at the appropriate times. Below is a breakdown of correctly approaching stakeholder engagement to make the transformation as pain free as possible.

Learn from frontline employees

The real answers to the problems and opportunities that exist within an organisation will be found at the coalface. The strategy perspective provided by upper management and executives is a valuable input for transformation. However, time spent with frontline teams is also needed to get an accurate picture of what is really going on in an organisation. From experience, a day spent shadowing frontline staff will deliver more insight than a week spent looking for answers in reports or interviews with senior management.

Build buy-in with frontline leadership

Owners of current business processes, technology and teams should be engaged throughout the transformation program. These stakeholders are ultimately responsible for driving and embedding desired solutions. They feel a strong sense of responsibility for the parts of the business they manage. The delivery team needs to transfer their sense of responsibility to the new solutions or risk these stakeholders rejecting the changes and derailing the implementation. We have seen some of the most exciting and highest potential projects ultimately failed due to a lack of engagement with frontline leadership.

Engage early with potential blockers

Using the old ‘eat the frog’ adage, successful sales transformations engage the difficult (often most high-performing) salespeople first. Involve these stakeholders early in the process, implement their feedback in the final solution and make them part of the transformation process. Executed properly, these high performers will be selling the transformation for you rather than resisting the changes in favour of the “tried and tested” approaches in which they are accustomed.

Contact us for more information on the approach that you should adopt for your sales and marketing transformation.

Next month this article series details the importance of delivering quick wins early in your sales and marketing transformation.

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