The current uncertainty in the marketplace has put many organizations on the move so they can be winning in the turns.
Winning in the Turns is a set of management behaviors intended to maintain a balance between strategic discipline and bold action on strategic, cost and talent plans. These behaviors are exhibited consistently by companies that accelerate their performance during and following periods of high uncertainty.
For many sales leaders, bold action looks like an acquisition or significant re-organization that requires them to integrate a new sales team into their span of control. Unfortunately, these integrations create new challenges and risks that impact their sales team, customer relationships and opportunities, along with internal operations, processes, and reporting.
Quickly, sales leaders must create an integration strategy with the help of key stakeholders from both the new and heritage teams. Importantly, sales leaders must ensure the integration does not become one-sided, as failing to include both groups increases the risk of alienating key talent. While this might seem unnecessary with smaller re-organizations, this is critical for larger transformations.
Sales leaders should consider these steps to improving a sales integration:
1- Be an executive sponsor
Mistakenly, some sales leaders attempt to own all aspects of integration planning. Gartner’s research shows the probability of success drops by 1% when the leader owns the planning. However, when the team owns the planning, the probability increases by 11%. Fundamentally, as the sponsor, sales leaders should be visible and committed but must delegate and empower. It’s a balance.
2- Name a sales-focused integration leader
Ideally, the integration leader will be skilled in operations, project management and communications. However, they must also have an appreciation for the sales organization. Failing to do so may cause costly oversights and mistakes.
3- Identify key stakeholders from both organizations
Sales leaders need to recognize that the integration is as much about people as it is about operations and technology. Cultural differences will exist and can be better identified and addressed with representation from both organizations. Plus, smaller teams may be heavily reliant on a few key employees. These key employees normally have high institutional knowledge, are extremely productive and are incredibly influential. Sales leaders must keep these key people engaged and encouraged.
4- Break down the integration into sales workstreams
Breaking the integration down into more manageable sales workstreams improves the chances of success.
Workstreams allow the sales leader to distribute accountability throughout the organization, which improves the sense of ownership by the team. Plus, many workstream managers may be in a better position to spot design flaws given their detailed knowledge of people, processes and systems.
5- Develop a cadence of checkpoints, communications and appreciation
Inevitably, integration success falls on the shoulders of a few key individuals who will work tirelessly to get things done. Sales leaders must recognize their efforts. Moreover, sales leaders must be present and available – recall the first recommendation of “being an executive sponsor”. If the sponsor seems disinterested in the progress, the integration team will become less vested in success.
Undoubtedly, savvy sales leaders are looking to win in the turns, and for many, sales integrations are in their future. Bold plans are great but to become a competitive advantage, action and execution cannot fall short of delivering accelerated performance.
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