Are you making changes to your sales organization with new leadership, a new CRM, going after a new channel or larger clients, or trying to sell solutions that cross multiple lines of business?You probably won’t be surprised to learn that roughly 70% of efforts by organizations to change direction are unsuccessful.  So, what are some ways to bend the curve on your firm’s outcomes?


When making changes, it’s important to consider that one major reason that change efforts often fail is that the organization is not aligned around the change.  Not surprisingly, people are generally resistant to change. Employees often prefer their current behaviors to new ones and will look for reasons not to change; and managers or peers who are not supportive, or even indifferent, about the change might be just the ticket they’re looking for to stay on their current path.

Gaining alignment to change current practices is different from a leader gaining consent to or compliance with their idea.  It involves effective teamwork to, first, make the right decisions about the change and, then, gain alignment around the change decided upon.


How do you do this?  Research from Richard Hackman, whose work on high performing teams lasted beyond his years, and Ruth Wageman (both Harvard PhD’s and organizational behaviorists),  proved that 80% of a team’s performance could be traced to three essential questions:

  1. Are they a real team?
  2. Do they have a compelling purpose?
  3. Do they have the right people?

Allow me to add some color to each, using an example that you’re assembling a task force to choose or change your organization’s CRM system.


A team that’s “real” is bounded, interdependent and stable.  Will the membership be defined?  To choose the right CRM for your firm, will the members need to draw from each other’s experience and insights? Can you count on the members to stay involved from start to finish, and will their managers support this?


A purpose that is “compelling” is clear, challenging and consequential.  Are members clear on the scope of the task?  Does their work end with a systems recommendation, or do they continue on through negotiation, or possibly implementation?  Will participating on this task force engage and stretch people in a way that feels good?  And do they see this system change as something that will help their colleagues, the business and give them pride?


The “right” people are those who can best contribute to the team’s mission.  For a CRM selection, does each member bring a perspective that will lead to the right outcomes?  Do they have teamwork skills that will enable them to operate effectively with others in contributing to the task force’s work?  Will they bring a diversity of thought to ensure there is some healthy tension in how decisions are made?


Ensuring your firm makes the right decisions, and is aligned around them, takes patience.  It’s way quicker to announce a decision and tell people to get on it.  That’s exactly what lands most initiatives in the 70% of fails.  If the change is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.  Getting into the 30% success club starts with a real team, a compelling purpose and the right people.

If you’re frustrated by a team that is charged with important work connected to your growth aspirations, but which is not aligned and incapable of producing optimal decisions, I can help.  By running a quick diagnostic – based on Hackman’s and Wageman’s work – we can gain clarity on both their challenges as a unit, and how to support them effectively, so that your efforts succeed.