In my view, improving B2B sales productivity requires provoking sales people to confidently change what they’re doing to improve their Return-on-Effort. This requires giving them a viewfinder that lets them kill tactics that aren’t working and inspires them to practice, more often, practices with the highest Return-on-Effort. This viewfinder needs to provoke them to act, wisely, with a knowledge of how what they’re doing every day is affecting results.
But, there is a problem. All of this requires that people change. In this context, B2B sales productivity is, quite precisely, a change management issue. Chip Heath notes that change can be exhausting; resistance is often confused with laziness, and provoked by a lack of clarity. Heath contends change is easiest when you can direct logically-oriented folks and motivate emotionally-oriented folks, then shape the path forward for both.
For the logic-inclined, some is not a number, and soon is not a time. They need specific data that reveals bright spots, triggering them to act, now. The emotionally-inclined must feel a need for change. They need to see things they care about in a different light, then given a carefully scripted path forward. Without these things, uncertainties will drive the emotionally inclined to continue doing what they’ve been doing and drive the logically inclined to analyze, rather than act.
Heath advocates using ‘destination postcards’ to overcome these barriers to change. They show the logically inclined where you’re headed and the emotionally inclined why the journey’s worthwhile. By then scripting the critical moves, you’ll point to the destination, shrink the change, appeal to folks’ identities, build a habit, and rally the herd. Destination postcards paint a picture of a future that hard work can make possible and inspire those involved to invest the effort. They marry long term goals to short term critical moves. They simplify choices, provoke action, and inspire effort.
Imagine giving every sale person their own destination postcard. With it, they could both see and feel the need to try new things, discover bright spots worth emulating, be inspired to act, then see the long term impacts of their short term actions. Change, now so thoughtfully provoked, becomes easy and, as such, sales productivity improves. As it did in this case. Just imagine having such postcards, and knowing your competitors don’t even know there was such a thing. Hmmm …