Most US companies have adopted structured processes aimed at becoming more efficient, eliminating waste and increasing profitability. These new processes require trained experts, commitment from executives and a solid plan.
The change management aspects of these undertakings are often grossly underestimated, however, and they are often implemented using a one-size-fits-all template. People in customer-facing roles, such as Sales and Service Professionals, often find these new methodologies foreign and daunting.
As a performance consultant to managers and leaders, I have had countless conversations involving the limitations of skilled employees to achieve stepped-up quotas using structured methodologies. The problem lies not in the well-intentioned objectives of increasing value while minimizing waste; rather, the issue is that the new practices don’t account for the attributes and motives that enable Sales and Service Professionals to excel.
Let’s take a look at specific skill sets and how these employees perceive the new “stepped-up” requirements.
Relationship Management, Customer Service & Sales Positions
Some ideas that contribute to these perceptions:
- Building trust is not a mathematical formula. It requires listening, understanding, vision casting and sincere persuasion to convince a prospect how a solution can meet his or her needs.
- There’s too much focus on metrics as the only path to achieving results. It is difficult for these professionals to reconcile the required structure with personal integrity and goodwill. Proficient relationship management professionals must believe in the purity of their own motives and actions in order to invest in helping the individual customers and organizations they serve. Otherwise, the effort feels mechanical, impersonal and dishonest.
- Customer-focused professionals take joy in making a difference. They use their minds, hearts and communication savvy to help people, for instance, by showcasing a top-of-line product to buyers. It gives them a sense of control and autonomy in achieving outcomes. They have difficulty connecting how additional structure, which challenges their pacing and time to deliver, will lead to a significantly better outcome.
- Employees need to feel like their opinion and input matters. Often, the “new structured process” becomes the Holy Grail within a company. Employees feel that in order to find favor with senior management or investors, they must demonstrate trust in the new strategies, which is shown through compliant behaviors. But customer-facing employees often have difficulty reconciling in their own hearts and minds how this new rhythm of work will help them be successful.
Finding a Solution
What will it take to optimize business outcomes while fully engaging the treasured relationship-management skills of your people? I encourage executive teams to take a close look at customer-facing roles and ways to customize success factors…
- Seek feedback from the frontline on customer trends, ease of winning new accounts, and any new obstacles experienced with the new approach. Note their energy and level of optimism as they go about their workdays.
- Understand the talent of your customer-facing professionals and the environment that best supports the execution of those attributes. Winning customer loyalties cannot be accomplished through linear thought and step-by-step processes; it requires skillful agility and fortitude.
- Institute a collaborative approach by asking representatives to participate in modifying the process to improve its rhythms and pace.
Overall, work with your sales/service employees to create a more nuanced path toward success. Integrate their keen relationship skills into a structure that fully utilizes and acknowledges their ability to win the hearts and minds of customers. You might discover the strategy and practice is only two degrees from the sweet spot of success for your business.