The Merger of Sales Forces Part II
What can be done to ease the tensions of merging sales forces?
By Marsha Wells and Jack R. Snader
Sales training departments can do a lot. Their challenge, during and after
a merger, is to respect the predecessor companies while building a common
denominator in the new company. Sales training needs to provide immediate opportunities for professional
development (for individuals) while also setting the standard for the new
culture (something for the new organization). And to support the corporate goals of retaining the best people and eliminating
the "dead wood," sales training has the task of specifically
motivating and encouraging the best people, providing something generally
beneficial for everyone, yet not encouraging those who do not fit in with
the new corporate culture.
Unfortunately, many sales training budgets are frozen as mergers take place.
Still, sales training can communicate positive messages and ideas throughout
the emerging organization to provide a basis for new training programs
that will eventually be installed. And they can help executive leadership
to disseminate the guiding principles of what it will take to be successful
in the new culture.
On all levels of the sales organization, fostering the idea of "citizenship"
will go a long way in easing the integration of sales forces. Citizenship
is a reliable touchstone during times of change, combining the idea of
personal integrity with the ideal of shared loyalty.
According to Systema's research, good corporate citizens are shown to be
good collaborators. They have the skills to bridge the present and the
future, to keep in mind both individual perspectives and new company objectives,
and to get people from different backgrounds working together. Our research
indicates that good citizens begin their collaborative efforts by helping
each other clarify goals and communicate. They actively encourage wide
participation to include varied perspectives and to ensure a broad range
of skills. As work progresses, they balance a focus on accomplishing tasks
with a watchful sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of teammates.
In the chaos of a merger, an excellent opportunity exists for sales training
to consider a return to the basics:
- Assessing skills and development needs
- Providing opportunities to develop citizenship behavior
These collaboration skills and values will serve both individuals and new
organizations well no matter where the people land and no matter how the
new company is structured. Specific job skills will be clarified after
the dust settles and job expectations are outlined, but during the transition
period, citizenship and an understanding of the collaboration skills it
entails will help to cement the new culture and reassure sales representatives
and their managers that they are moving into an organization they will
want to join.
To help in merger transitions, a unique instrument is used that measures
the collaborative skills of individuals, including their:
- Focus... aligning their own job's contribution to the overall effort and concentrating
on making that contribution
- Initiative... assuming leadership in group activities and displaying competence
- Teamwork...working with others in a positive and productive way
- Personal awareness... observing what is going on with others in the environment and keeping
in touch with the attitudes and problems of people as they work with them
- Self-control... attending to detail; exercising appropriate restraint while pushing
things to happen
- Recognition... expressing appreciation to people for work well done, whether under
their supervision or not
- Interpersonal Relations... being approachable, dependable, and tolerant of others
Assessment of collaboration skills has been used as a way of providing new salespeople with a base reading of their effectiveness
in working with others, and as a way of providing management with a list of high-potential candidates for future
field management positions. Interestingly, individuals who score well during their first two-week
sales training class on these types of assessments, in which they are rated
by fellow classmates, generally have significant potential as future first-line
sales managers. Assessments prove time and again that peers tend to gauge each other's
potential accurately even before management is able to detect it. .. one of many reasons they're so effective in the development process.
Part I of this article.
For information on Systema's sales management development systems, e-mail
us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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