From the Desk of Michael Hollander, VP Sales
June 18, 2024

Three Questions to Ask Yourself about Change Management


  • Thought Leadership

  • Change Management

  • Small Business

"Change management" is a hot topic for sales teams. Yet many small business sales teams remain wedded to outdated, reactive approaches to cultivating sales relationships.

If you've thus far been indifferent to change management, two takeaways from a recent Sapient survey may sway you: 28 percent of businesses with less than 500 employees have a change management model in place.

Okay, you say, that's not huge. However, the smart leaders of these businesses claim anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent improvement in business outcomes, including higher productivity, greater innovation, and improved customer service. These "28 percenters" are, as good managers, embracing the exciting possibilities that change offers — and not accepting the status quo.

Change is essential for good management.

At Fora Financial, we're constantly evaluating our sales operations to target potential areas of change: Can we be spending more time walking a customer through the funding process? Are we making the best use of our phone time with prospects — and are those calls converting them into customers?

Our sales team's change management strategy informs our technology development. We've spurred innovation for most every aspect of a transaction, from making an application to being funded. We've also devised change management initiatives to respond to challenging economic conditions in the finance industry, including rising interest rates, inflation, and ever-changing government and industry regulations.

As a manager, I need to assess our capacity for change management initiatives. Do we need to add staff or increase our spending? How might this change create unintended changes in other areas of the business? A change in the application process, for example, may create an unanticipated surge in the underwriting team's workflow. Considering these potential outcomes early on increases the chances of a smooth transition.

Ready, set, wait just a minute.

So, you're ready to make a change? Great. But ask yourself these three questions before enacting a change management program:

#1 How can team feedback and stronger bonds fuel innovation?

To build trusting bonds with our team members and encourage their feedback, we lead with transparency and solid planning. Greater participation spurs further change and innovation, creating a virtuous cycle.

Our team spawns some of its best ideas when we're gathered in a conference room. By sharing our daily interactions with prospects and/or different customer segments, each member hears how their colleagues are handling challenging situations. This makes them more inclined to share their own stories with the group, encouraging an ongoing dialogue.

This kind of anecdotal feedback is the first step of a greater exploration. If someone on the phone says, for example, that they're losing sales in a particular industry, we compare this anecdotal feedback with key sales data points. If it's a trend, we act quickly with a change management plan. If not, we monitor that area to see if a trend develops.

The current economy requires vigilant monitoring of financial headlines that impact small businesses. Interest and inflation rates and ever-changing federal and state regulations are just a couple of the topics we follow and discuss as a group. Sharing this information with our people on the phones helps them better serve our customers.

#2 How can we manage resistance to change (the fear factor)?

The inherent uncertainty of change can cause fear among the ranks. In the absence of information, some employees may assume the worst about their future in the organization.

To address these anxieties, we sit down with our team members, discuss their concerns, and make sure they understand the motivation behind a change, no matter how large or small. When you use your internal data to support such an open and honest dialogue, you're better set up to create tangible team goals. Goal setting can do much to combat the fear factor.

#3 How can we use business intelligence (BI) to support the change management process?

My team excels at building reports, pulling relevant data, and creating dashboards within our CRM to support our change management initiatives. I encourage each team member to identify potential areas of change, make suggestions for improvement, and even take ownership of a change management plan.

We always tie back a change to where we think it's going to have the most impact on our sales funnel. Then, we measure its success, for better or for worse. Our robust risk and analytics teams leverage various BI tools to provide meaningful performance insights, including KPIs related to the change at hand.

We review those KPIs regularly as a team to identify the tangible results of our change management efforts. This is especially helpful in winning over a team member who may have resisted the change — and may make them more receptive to future change and innovation.

When your sales operation commits to what your sales team is doing all you can to succeed.

Since 2008, Fora Financial has distributed $4 billion to 55,000 businesses. Click here or call (877) 419-3568 for more information on how Fora Financial's working capital solutions can help your business thrive.