Thanks for joining us throughout this series. If you remember, in our last post, we looked at how to put together everything we’ve discussed so far to create a new and improved lead gen process: one that priorities quality of leads over quantity, and which has the power to produce stronger opportunities, more sales, and a highly efficient, revenue-producing marketing organization.
But let’s be real: Change is hard. And making change stick over time is even harder. So, in this final post, we’ll be looking at how to create change that lasts—even (and especially) when that change becomes a challenge.
But let’s be real: Change is hard. And making change stick over time is even harder.
So. You’re bought in. You’re ready to overhaul your marketing. Now what? If you want to institute real change, you’ll need to follow four simple (but critical) steps.
Step 1: Captivate your audience.
Why do so many change initiatives fail? Too many people expect their organizations to jump head-first into a change effort without being able to see the problem they’re trying to solve. It sounds simple, but for change to take effect, you need to first have people believe that change is required.
Too many people expect their organizations to jump head-first into a change effort without being able to see the problem they’re trying to solve.
To do that, you need to create a compelling story to tell your organization. Much like a play or movie, this story will follow the classic three-act structure:
Act I: Set the stage
In any great movie, the first act sets up the problem. This is where we as the audience meet the enemy and see the hero struggling to meet their goal. By the end of this act, we all know exactly what needs to happen for the hero to succeed.
Similarly, when talking to key players in your organization, you’ll want to start by highlighting the symptoms of the problem. Show how your current method for demand generation creates pain and suffering for everyone involved. This could include frustration, wasted resources, burnout, wheel-spinning, poor sales results, or whatever else your marketers and sales professionals (and even your CFO and CEO) are dealing with. Conclude by stating how staying in this path will lead to further complications.
Act II: Show the path forward
The second act in a movie typically consists of a series of lessons the hero is learning in order to overcome the villain. It is the training montage in Rocky, or Katniss collecting food and weapons in The Hunger Games.
So what’s your act II? This is where you’ll want to outline the changes you intend to deploy and show how they will resolve the pain you described in act I. By doing so, you will set the stage for how your team will resolve the problem, while also helping them visualize their participation in the process.
Act III: Envision the resolution
In any blockbuster movie, the third act is the final conflict: Rocky Balboa’s big fight scene; the Avengers battling it out with the enemy; Peeta and Katniss winning the Hunger Games. In the third act, the hero applies the lessons they learned in act II in order to overcome the villain.
When managing change within your team, you will want to show how their efforts will bring about a positive result. You will essentially give away the ending of the story, painting a vision in the minds of your audience of how much better life will be after they institute these changes. Even if you are not an amazing orator, by following this simple step, you can create anticipation for your project and fuel a sense of urgency.
Bottom line? Don’t skip the storytelling. Even though it happens before the “real work” even begins, none of the work can get done without it. The story is what will green-light your efforts and win over your executive oversight team. It will also provide you with a coalition of people who believe in your vision and will help you make it happen.
More on that next.
Step 2: Enlist your army, and get out of the way.
We know that lasting change starts from the bottom up, not the top down. While executive buy-in is critical to gaining the resources to achieving your vision, you must also convince your team of on-the-ground workers to buy in to the change. Otherwise, they will resent your initiative and actively work against it.
Lasting change starts from the bottom up, not the top down.
How do you get bottom-up buy-in? As a leader, you must guide the vision, but you cannot manage its execution. Instead, empower a subordinate to run your project and design the tactics for its success. They will naturally take ownership of the change and put their full efforts behind bringing it about.
Secondly, form a cross-functional task force to help your appointed manager execute their strategies. Include people from sales, revenue operations/IT, marketing, and anyone else who will benefit from the end result of the change. Handpick members who are fully bought in to the vision and who share your sense of urgency.
Every organization has a few folks who will resist change and actively try to undermine your efforts. They do not want to be part of this initiative, and you will not make them a part of it.
Peer-to-peer contact is critical to lasting change, and success will come from empowerment of your employees rather than commands from executives. Let your team take up the flag for change, recruit other advocates to the group, and execute on the mission.
Step 3: Clear the path, and announce the wins.
So, while your team is doing all the work, where does that leave you? As a leader, your job is simple: Remove your team’s obstacles and highlight their wins along the way.
As a leader, your job is simple: Remove your team’s obstacles and highlight their wins along the way.
Make sure your team gets the resources they need. Kick down doors, remove roadblocks, and make tough decisions. Do not let the naysayers have a voice in the room, and keep your team focused on the tasks ahead.
As change takes hold, continue to promote the initiative internally by advertising any short-term wins. Use your best storytelling techniques to let everyone know how your team is marching toward the vision. This will help you continue to generate buy-in both up and down the chain, sustaining your momentum and keeping the project on track and top-of-mind.
Step 4: Slowly but surely, realize success.
If you do all of the above, eventually, you will start to see impact and gains from the changes you are instituting. Shout from the rooftops your project’s successes to the rest of the organization. Articulate the connections between these results and the team that generated them. Lift up the members of your team and laud them as trailblazers who are forging the new direction of the company.
At this point, the initiative no longer belongs to you but to the coalition of change-makers you have built. Reward their efforts and amplify their successes. Then, invite other believers to get involved. Continue expanding your efforts until you’ve achieved all you set out to do. And don’t let anyone forget where these amazing new results came from.
Make no mistake: The change you seek won’t be easy or immediate. There are no shortcuts or overnight success stories here. Change is a process. When leaders forget that, they tend to skip steps, causing their grand plan to fizzle out before it has a chance to catch fire. So when times get tough, when you’re facing opposition and pressure, and when the path ahead simply seems too steep, come back to this process. And start at stage 1.
We’ll be with you every step of the way.