Anyone in Sales has experienced unexpected change such as a new boss, a corporate restructure, a merger, or an acquisition. So how do you handle the fact that your working environment may be turned upside down through no fault of your own? Good question! Suit up and show up! It sounds easy but it’s really your only good option. If your boss gets promoted or fired, someone is going to have to replace them so know that change is inevitable. The one thing I learned at P&G is that you can be sure that whatever change occurred, not to get too attached because in a couple of years it would change again! So I learned to not stress out about change and eventually I would welcome it. Can you imagine if Apple decided to stick with the iPod and never change/innovate? The entire population has changed how it communicates. Because of competition, we will always see innovation and upgrades. Whether it’s a manager, division, computer system, CRM, or account. Here are 5 things that will help you survive and thrive:
1. Keep doing your day job- A lot of changes occur over weeks, months, or sometimes even years. If your company is going through a restructure, the best thing you can do is keep doing your day to day job. I know people who would basically stop working when they heard there was a restructure because they were paralyzed in fear of being fired. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of working like they should have to keep the business humming along, they would literally spend all their time worrying, complaining, spreading rumors, scaring other co-workers (misery loves company right?). The people who kept doing their job day in, day out, always seemed to land well when the changes were announced. The Negative Nellie’s always seemed to get the short end of the stick. Funny how that happens.
2. Strive to be the best– I believe that the cream always rises to the top, regardless of the change. If an organization is cutting the division that you are in but you are ranked number 1, it would be very likely that they would find a place for you in another division. Companies don’t want to lose good employees. It costs about $100,000 to hire and retain a good employee. It would be a bad business decision to get rid of someone who was bringing in the best sales only to let them go work for the competition. Think about it. When there is a lay off, where do you think those people will go? Yep…to the competition. There are employees that I can tell you were so good that my company would find a place for simply because they knew they couldn’t find anyone who could see against them in the field. No company wants to spend $100,000 training former employees to become their competition. So keep striving to be in the top 1%, 5%, of 10% of your sales division.
3. Be in the solution and not the problem– As I mentioned before, people handle change differently and some are negative from the beginning and spend all of their time complaining about the problems like not enough jobs, too much work, accounts they will lose, etc. Do not spend a lot of time spreading the misery of the problems that may never even happen. Just focus on the solution. Let’s say that your company is going to drop a few top products to make room for some new ones. Do you tell your customers what a mistake they are making? Can you imagine telling your boss that you hope they adjust your goal because with out Product X, I’ll never hit your numbers? Yeah..good luck with that! Instead, you could tell your customers that your company has some new products coming down the pike and that they might want to order extra now if they really like Product X because it will not be around forever! This solves the problem of how to get rid of old inventory fast doesn’t it? If you know that the new product is supposed to be better, let your customer know what good things you have heard and tell them that once you learn the new product you’ll want to make an appointment to go over it with them. Everyone wants the newest and shiniest thing don’t they? So you increase your sales now, get rid of the old inventory, and get your customer excited, and have an appointment set for your product launch? That is called being in the solution!
4. Be teachable– Whatever the change is, be willing to learn something new. The worse thing you can do is resist change and be against learning the “new way” or the “new model”. If your company is getting new laptops or a new CRM for the sales team, be willing to learn it. Immerse yourself as much as you can prior to the launch/training. YouTube, websites, tutorials, training materials, and even friends who might be already using the system could be helpful. I was picked to be my division’s technology lead because I hated computers at the time. My boss at the time had a great sense of humor and he told me that he knew that I would need to be good at computers to move up in the company so if I could teach people how to use them, then my knowledge would have to be the best! He was right. I became a techno-geek and still to this day I am working with IT to integrate applications at my lab. All is self-taught. I made this website on my own too!
5. Find ways to win in the “new world”– If you have a new boss who does things totally different than you’re used to, get over it! The old boss’s way is gone, you have to adjust or you will lose in the long run. Trust me, the new boss will put up with your complaining for a short time and then you become a liability to the team. How can the team move forward in the new world with someone always saying “well when Joe was the boss, he never made us do weekly reports”. Those who get with the new program will be better served than the whiner! Don’t be that person! Find out what your new boss values and try to find ways to genuinely show them who what you are capable of. If you know they like to coach a lot, ask them how to handle a difficult customer. If they like to work in the field a lot, invite them on customer calls that may be a struggle for you. If they are “hands off” make sure your numbers are always good. Work hard regardless of who is checking up on you. If you get a micromanager, it won’t matter if you are doing the right thing all the time. Only slackers really hate micromanagers because they make them actually work. If you have a crazy micromanager who even messes with the top performers, don’t worry they typically won’t last long as a manager! Remember the only thing you can count on is that change is probably coming!!!