April 10

How To Successfully Manage A Sales Team Through Change


Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote the bestselling book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” in 1998. Today, the content remains quite relevant because many of us in sales are asking:

Who moved my sales cheese?

The book is a parable about four characters. Two are Littlepeople “Hem” and “Haw” and the other two are mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry.” The all lived in a maze, but managed to find cheese at Cheese Station C. They were happy and comfortable with visiting this station each day until one day, they showed up and there was no cheese.

Someone moved their cheese!

They had different responses. Sniff and Scurry weren’t that surprised because they’d been watching the cheese supply slowly dwindle. And because they’d been paying attention, they were prepared for the change and immediately took on the big task of trying to find more cheese.

Hem and Haw were not so fast to change. Hem decided to stay in denial, wishing for the good old days to return. Haw finally recognized the need for change and looked for new cheese.

Anyone seeing similarities in how you are responding to today’s business environment?

As Haw navigated through new avenues to find cheese, which he did find, he reflected on what he learned. Many are very applicable to sales.

Change Happens – “They keep moving my cheese.” Yup, business is going to continue to change because the new normal isn’t even in sight at this point. This is why it’s important to develop and apply the EQ skills of flexibility and self-awareness. Reflect and ask yourself where you are stuck, in denial and not moving forward with the necessary changes to succeed.

Anticipate Change – “Get Ready for the Cheese to Move.” Just when you think you have identified your new sales targets and designed approaches for new prospects, the target may move. In order to anticipate change, study trends and meet with people outside of your normal network. Keep gaining new perspectives so you can make the next move.

Monitor Change – “Smell the Cheese Often so You Know When it is Getting Old.”  I loved this one. Each week, ask the question, “What isn’t working anymore? Where do I have a blind spot and who can I ask to hold up the mirror?  Am I still in love with an old benefit that doesn’t add any value to my clients in this current environment?”

Adapt to Change Quickly – “The Quicker You Let Go of Old Cheese, the Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese.” Letting go is hard because it may mean dropping aspects of your life that you really enjoy that may not come back. Again, ask yourself the introspective questions: What do I need to let go of? What isn’t serving me or my customers at this time?

Change – Move With the Cheese.” One of my favorite things to do is to take a nature walk. I am fascinated by the structure of trees. When hiking, I see trees that are strong and upright. They don’t appear to have encountered any kind of storm. Then other trees have trunks and branches that bend to the right, then the left and then finally straight up. This visual is always a great reminder that trees faced the forces of nature but managed to move with them and grow.

Enjoy Change! – “Savor the Adventure and Enjoy the Taste of New Cheese! The new world of social distancing selling has created some positives. I’ve enjoyed virtual cups of coffee and happy hours. Many of my clients and colleagues aren’t on planes or constantly in traffic, so it’s been easier to connect with people live rather than via email.  

One final reflection from Haw: 

Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again.

Good Selling!


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