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Implementing Change in Building Materials Sales Departments

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Implementing Change in Building Materials Sales Departments

Trying to change salespeople is difficult. Sometimes it can seem like your dealing with a group of stubborn mules. You can implement changes in pricing or your compensation system, but salespeople will put up a lot of resistance if they feel like you’re telling them how to do their job.

I’m not a motivation or compensation expert, but I have a simple but effective technique that building material companies have used to successfully change the habits of their salespeople.

Change Requires Motivation

Unless a change is a condition of employment, you have to motivate your sales team to adopt it. You also have to accept that you won’t achieve 100% compliance, but a little motivation can get more of your salespeople to make the change – and make it in less time.

Here are three types of change I frequently see building material companies struggle to implement:

  1. They tell their salespeople to start using a CRM
  2. They tell their salespeople to call on different types of customers (for example, spending less time with their distributors or dealers and calling on more builders or contractors) 
  3. They tell their salespeople to be more active on social media

The salespeople often treat these as requests or suggestions rather than orders. Then, the company leadership tells me how frustrated they are that they don’t see the changes they requested.

In each of these examples, I have helped companies to get more salespeople to make the change faster with one simple technique.

Here’s what I advised them to do. 

Look for people who are doing what you want. On a regular basis and over the course of a few months, send an email from the VP of Sales or even the President to the sales team calling out an individual salesperson for doing it right. Ideally, you can share an example of what they did and how it paid off for them.

What Happens When You Use This Technique

Simple, right? It’s also very effective. 

Sending those emails reinforces the importance of your new initiative to all your salespeople because a leader is calling it out in an unexpected and personal manner. You’re also using repetition to reinforce the importance of your program.

Leaders will frequently communicate a change in a single email or as part of 82 other things that are announced at a sales meeting. When it’s rattled off like that, most people don’t get the message. And the ones who do get the message will take a wait-and-see attitude. They won’t change until they see you’re actually serious about it. 

Repetition and an unexpected way of driving the point will make sure the sales team is getting the message.

Sending an email is also an opportunity for newer salespeople or salespeople with smaller sales territories to stand out and be recognized. That will motivate them, and it will also motivate your sales leaders. Sales leaders are used to getting most of the recognition and they’re often the ones who are most set in their ways. Seeing other people get recognition gets their attention while reinforcing the kind of behavior you want to see. 

To be most effective this shouldn’t be part of your normal salesforce communications. It should be its own series of emails

And it’s not meant to replace other types of reward, recognition, and performance measurement programs.  

It is a simple, no-cost way to help your salespeople adopt the changes you would like them to adopt. 

If you’re struggling to implement changes in your sales department, all it takes is more motivation. And you can get that with a few simple emails. 

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.