In this blog, we showcase a recent Sales Leadership Awakening podcast episode where Steven Rosen and I interviewed Keith Rzucildo. He is Vice President of Sales at Miller Electric and a seasoned leader who has successfully navigated the complexities of gaining buy-in for a new vision within his organization.
Here are three insightful tips from his interview for getting his sales team to adapt, change and improve to remain relevant.
#1: Acknowledging the Need for Change
“We had a sales force that was highly successful… to come up with a vision and tell them that we need to do some things differently here when they’ve been highly successful, you can imagine how that goes over.” - Keith Rzucidlo
The first challenge in gaining buy-in for a new vision was acknowledging the need for change. Keith’s organization had a long-tenured sales force that had achieved significant success. Convincing them that change was necessary required presenting them with data and macro trends which highlighted the changing market dynamics and the increasing need for providing customers even more value.
By framing the need for change as a response to potential loss rather than just a desire for growth, he was able to tap into the psychological aspect of human behavior.
“People are more likely to respond to the fear of losing something they already have rather than the promise of something new.” - Keith Rzucidlo
This approach helped the organization’s sales force understand the urgency and importance of embracing the new vision.
#2: Framing the Vision
“We were moving from a manufacturer’s rep to a strategic selling organization… We’ve had no duplicatable sales process so we knew that a repeatable process would bring extreme value to clients, faster wins and we’ll win more often, etc.” - Keith Rzucidlo
Once the need for change was acknowledged, it was crucial to effectively communicate the new vision to the team. As a result, Keith had to emphasize the shift from a reactive sales approach to a proactive one. This required having his team understand the importance of having a repeatable sales process. This unified approach helped the team understand the direction they needed to take and the value they could bring to customers.
#3: Creating Time and Space for Coaching
“We had to take a step back… and reflect on a yearly basis… where are we missing the boat relative to what we said we were going to do and how do we then create the time and the energy to be put into that high-value activity?” - Keith Rzucidlo
Coaching played a vital role in driving their success. However, Keith noted that his sales managers often find themselves caught up in firefighting and day-to-day operational tasks, leaving little time for coaching. Recognizing this challenge, the organization took a step back and reflected on its priorities. It acknowledged the need to create time and space for coaching, which was identified as a high-value activity. By setting clear expectations and allowing sales managers to spend over 50% of their time coaching, the organization prioritized the development and growth of its sales force. This commitment to coaching and reflection helped drive the success of the transformation.
As Keith shared, gaining buy-in for a new vision is a journey that requires careful planning, effective communication, and a commitment to coaching and development. By leveraging data, storytelling, and focusing on potential loss, organizations can rally their teams and set them on a path of growth and transformation.
Equip your leaders with the necessary tools and support.
Create time and space for coaching.
Remember, as organizations continue to navigate the ever-changing business landscape, the ability to gain buy-in for new visions and strategies will be a key leadership differentiator.