Auli Packalén: Story of a sales guy in the era of continuous change

During the dozens of change projects in our customers’ organizations, I’ve learned to know extremely well a person, who can be found in all organizations. Let’s call him Mike. It could be Mary as well, but let’s decide to call him Mike.

Mike works as a sales manager in a large global company. In 2019, there are 12*) change initiatives that have impact on him. Initiatives that require learning new skills, adopting new roles, processes, tasks, routines, or even completely new mindset or ways of working.

In 2019, there are 12*) change initiatives that have impact on him. Initiatives that require learning new skills, adopting new roles, processes, tasks, routines, or even completely new mindset or ways of working.

This year he will be impacted by four group-driven changes: new strategy, new HR system with more self-service, implementation of new digital collaboration tools and ways of working, and new IT service set-up through changed outsourcing partner.

In addition, Mike’s business unit is driving eight changes that directly affect him, such as introduction of several new services and solutions, sales organization renewal, CRM system upgrade and automation of part of sales process. These 12 projects are sending Mike messages, training invitations, instructions, e-learning links etc. – quite often without any coordination with each other.

Actually Mike is a person who believes in continuous improvement and that business must constantly renew to maintain competitiveness. He finds the new strategy meaningful and sees the benefits of the upgraded CRM system. He just can’t do it all.

Like anyone working in sales, his days consist of contacting and meeting customers, following up sales opportunities, figuring out the best solutions to the customers needs, preparing quotations… Naturally, one big thing that is driving him in his work are the sales targets for this year. If he performs well, he’ll probably get some bonuses.

Actually Mike is a person who believes in continuous improvement and that business must constantly renew to maintain competitiveness. He just can’t do it all.

If we added all these 12 changes on top his workload, he would simply get drowned in all that. So he prioritizes and puts less focus on something. When there’s too much going on, who thinks that he’ll skip the tasks that contribute to 2019 sales? Well, neither do I.

When we look at Mike and his reality, we quite clearly see what needs to be solved to excel when change is continuous: The balance between load and capacity. The balance between current daily business and change-related needs and expectations.

When we look at Mike and his reality, we quite clearly see what needs to be solved to excel when change is continuous: The balance between load and capacity.

In balancing load and capacity and helping Mike manage his available bandwidth, senior leadership play a critical role. They have an up-to-date understanding on how various projects impact people over time, and based on that prioritize and sequence the initiatives. What canbe done at once? What can be done later?

Typically it’s money and sometimes maybe project management resources that affect prioritization. Hardly ever it’s the impact on people – Mike and his colleagues.

Do you recognize the Mikes in your organization? How could you help him succeed in the era of constant change?

*) The figure 12 is based on the survey that we at CCEA conducted in February-March 2019. Based on the survey, the respondents’ companies are in average carrying out 12 change initiatives, that have an impact on sales persons in 2019. The bigger the organization, the larger the number of changes. For organizations with more than 10,000 employees, the average number of changes with impacts on sales people was 15,4. We also asked, how the number of changes has developed during the past two years. Nearly all the respondents answered that the number has increased during the past couple of years.

This blog text is based on Auli Packalén’s presentation at CHANGE19 event, organized by CCEA in March 2019.