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10/23/14: Post updated to include a link to download Stacey Sedbrook’s presentation this week to the Inland Press Association. 

“Change is hard. It takes a lot of effort. Sustaining change is even harder.”

BIA/Kelsey’s Stacey Sedbrook offered a sales transformation clinic this week at the Inland Press Association’s annual conference in Chicago.

The success or failure of any transformation effort is rooted in basic human behavior. Sedbrook led off her talk by breaking down how people respond to change. Understanding and anticipating these reactions will improve the odds for success.

7 responses

Leaders who can execute and sustain a change initiative are the ones that “remove obstacles,” Sedbrook said. These obstacles can be legacy systems, cumbersome processes, or people who resist change.

“Whenever I work with a client, I ask them three questions. ‘Are you ready for change?’ ‘Are you willing to invest in change?’ You need to invest both time and money. The answer to this question is always, ‘Yes.’ The truth is almost always ‘No.’ And finally, I ask, ‘Are you willing to make the hard personnel decisions?’ Because sometimes that is what it takes.”

Sedbrook is VP of Strategic Sales Consulting at BIA/Kelsey. She helps companies improve their digital sales performance. Inland Press is a trade group that represents smaller newspaper publishers, organizations that often struggle with change.

Sedbrook’s talk touched on the full spectrum of transformation success drivers — platforms and technology, channel structure, bundling versus a la carte, compensation, the product mix, leadership.

One of the most overlooked success drivers is internal communications. “Most organizations under-communicate by 10X,” she said. “For any transformation effort, you need a communications plan.”

By erring on the side of over-communicating — via newsletters, town hall meetings, podcast and so on — you reduce the fear, mistrust and uncertainty that so often gets in the way of change.

Sedbrook said sustaining transformation largely involves overcoming No. 7 on the list of typical responses to change — the tendency to revert to old behaviors. This is achieved by leaders keeping up the pressure and urgency (which involves communication), driving the effort against clear short and long term KPIs and removing obstacles to change.

“You have to be consistent and persistent,” she said.

We will share additional details of Sedbrook’s Sales Transformation Playbook in upcoming blog posts and BIA/Kelsey reports. Click here to download a copy of Sedbrook’s presentation to the Inland Press Association.

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