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Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 11/12. Stage IX – Implementation of internal procedures.

Changing internal procedures for sales and customer service is a task that requires consideration, because new organizational solutions can affect customer relationships. When introducing procedural improvements, every manager should be careful not to achieve the opposite effect, i.e. disorganize work. Due to such risk, it is necessary to perform a number of preparatory actions that will reduce the risk of implementing a non-functional and thus demotivating work system. What’s worse, mistakes made can have a negative impact on sales results and the quality of customer service. It should also be remembered that the word “procedure” in most organizations is pejorative. Employees often assess internal rules as inconsistent with reality or limiting their field of activity or paralyzing work.

Another common mistake is the lack of internal training refreshing employees’ knowledge of procedures. As a result, a common condition in the organization is that commercial activities are implemented based on one criterion – sales result, and according to the principle: the end justifies the means. Commercial procedures should be understood as the overall regulation of the sales department’s scope of work. Depending on the type of business or market segment, this type of procedure may contain different regulations. They should also protect the company against broadly understood poor quality sales. The scope of risk incurred by sales activities is significant and includes many factors that go far beyond standard thinking about the task of offering and providing products to customers. In this context, it should be noted how the correct programming of the work system by creating functional procedures has a positive effect on employee motivation. To illustrate the scale of possible regulations, and as an overview, the following is a list of areas that can be considered in commercial procedures:

  1. Principles to verify the credibility of contractors (verification of the solvency of contractors and the legality of their business scope).
  2. Principles of preventing fraud attempts and fraud to the detriment of the enterprise.
  3. Rules for organizing transport to customers and selecting transport companies (eliminating the risk of losses during transport and phishing).
  4. Sales rules within the insurance limit and sales monitoring within the limit (control of the turnover balance with individual clients under external or internal transaction limits).
  5. Principles for hedging financial risk (cooperation with the risk department in securing transactions on the stock exchange and eliminating currency risk).
  6. Principles of cooperation with production departments in the scope of ordering production.

Therefore, the implementation of the sales procedure has the following objectives:

  • Maximum reduction of transaction risk with clients.
  • Meeting the formal and legal requirements necessary from a tax point of view.
  • Reduction of the risk of goods being lost due to phishing scams.
  • Providing employees with comfort of work by providing precise instructions in specific cases and documenting work.

It should be emphasized that the last point of the above list is of particular importance from the point of view of the employer / supervisor – employee relationship. A clearly defined sales procedure, approved by superiors, clearly delimits the scope of responsibility between these parties. The employee may be assessed for compliance with the procedure, while the supervisor’s responsibility is to correctly construct this regulation.

To prepare a reliable commercial procedure, you can take the following actions:

  1. Review of existing procedures in the area of sales and customer service.
  2. Mapping of all main and secondary processes in sales and customer service.
  3. Transaction risk analysis (from the financial security side) at individual stages of the sales process.
  4. Interview with sales department employees about knowledge of procedures and their actual application.

After the analysis, which can be described as an internal audit, proceed to the development of individual elements of the sales procedure. Considering the long process of its preparation and implementation, resulting from the need for internal consultations and the approval of managers, its individual components can be implemented based on a business order with validity until a comprehensive regulation is announced. The caveat to any official order should be the rule that if the order does not provide for any situation or raises any doubts, the employee should refrain from action until the supervisor decides. The consequence of this solution will be the rapid implementation of the necessary regulations and ensuring the safety and quality of commercial operations.

On the other hand, it will be possible to verify specific procedural regulations in practice. Therefore, in this case one can speak of pilot implementation of the procedure.

Depending on the level of complication, the final implementation of the procedure may take place over several weeks or months. It is recommended to test individual solutions and collect comments from all persons acting on its basis. This approach provides the following benefits:

  • All interested parties, and later persons using the procedure, are involved in its development and thus become familiar with the purposefulness of the regulation and the genesis of its creation.
  • Employees naturally already know procedural regulations at the pilot stage.
  • The implementation of the final document is quick and does not require significant commentary or, for example, long training and explanations.
  • Employees gain comfort by clearly indicating the paths of action in specific situations.

From the supervisor’s point of view, the main benefit is, of course, the fulfillment of their duties in this area, but also the regulation of a significant area of work, which eliminates making ad hoc decisions and introduces uniform and transparent action towards contractors.

Speaking of sales procedures, you cannot ask questions about regulations directly related to the standards of working with the client – speaking the so-called commercial language service. The literature on the subject extensively describes this aspect of working with clients.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 9/12. Stage VII – Staff changes.

The consistent implementation of the process of implementing changes and the motivation system presented in previous stages was aimed at assessing the team’s potential and raising the competence of its individual members. The openness of individual employees to changes and the introduction of a work model was also examined. As a result of the implementation of these stages, the quality of staff will be verified in the context of meeting the criteria of the competency model adopted as the expected ‘model’ of the employee. As a result of this analysis, it may be necessary to end cooperation with some team members. The reason for this decision will most often be the individual attitude of employees throughout the entire cooperation. From the point of view of further cooperation, disqualifying features and behaviors are:

  • Reluctance to change,
  • Open, unobjective and emotional critique of superiors and proposed new solutions,
  • Not taking action as a result of official orders or apparently carrying them out,
  • Inciting other team members to protest against implemented changes,
  • Reluctance to develop further,
  • Exorbitant and non-objective assessment of one’s own competences.

When assessing such decisions in retrospect, it should be emphasized that they are necessary and have a positive impact on changing the attitude of other employees. Thus, negative factors affecting relationships within the team are eliminated. From a managerial point of view, the decision to terminate cooperation should be transparent for the entire team. The manager should also show that he is not hostage of his own employees.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 8/12. Stage VI – Determining the employee’s competence profile.

Employees of customer service and sales should be people who understand customers from the emotional side and be able to reach their shopping motivations. In addition, they should have a key feature which is the ability to be entrepreneurial when working with clients. This is due to the complexity of the tasks performed and many factors affecting the sales result. Optimal use of all commercial opportunities (e.g. speed of order processing, selection of appropriate transport, quick establishment of internal production plans, organization of meetings with clients) allows for better economic results. This means that the priority is to instill in employees an economical approach to sales and customer service – “work as if it was your company!”.

It is therefore crucial to create an appropriate organizational culture in the entire department, which would be transferred to employees of other departments during their daily relations. This culture is also to be a showcase for customers who quickly understand its features:

  • Flexibility for customer needs,
  • Quick response to customer inquiries,
  • Precise answers,
  • Openness to new projects and challenges.

The above list is a manifestation of the implemented organizational culture noticed by customers. From an internal point of view, sought candidates and current employees should have the following competences:

  • Self-discipline – the ability to perform tasks on time and in good quality without the need for continuous managerial supervision,
  • Readiness to achieve goals within the team – the ability to cooperate with team members regardless of their role,
  • Openness to new ideas,
  • Honesty,
  • Regularity and good organization of own work.

The above-mentioned features are the foundation of the employee’s competency model from the interpersonal side.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 5/12. Stage III – Analysis of employees’ competences and division of tasks.

Managerial analysis of employee competences can be implemented based on the following data sources:

  • Periodic severance pay – observation of team behavior,
  • Delegation of special tasks – checking individual managerial competences and potential,
  • Coaching during remote work with clients and visits to recipients,
  • Analysis of developed documents,
  • Periodic interviews regarding job evaluation,
  • Opinions of the direct superior,
  • Analysis of measurable work results,
  • Customer reviews (informal)
  • Customer satisfaction survey, which mainly concerned sales department employees,
  • Evaluation of the quality of cooperation between heads of other organizational units.

Based on the conclusions saved in the form of a checklist resulting from the determination of the team position of individual employees, their competences and the probable source of motivation, it is possible to create a competency model of employees at individual positions in the subordinate division. This model will not result from the system of the entire corporation (if it has not been implemented) but will serve primarily to build a real employee team that can achieve ambitious goals.

The information gathered in previous stages will allow to make further managerial decisions in the field of team development, verification of its members, change of the organizational structure of the division, new division of tasks, and creation of a motivation system.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 4/12. Stage II – Understanding the characteristics of employees.

This element of implementing changes cannot be treated as closed in time. Throughout the cooperation period, the manager gets to know his employees during various professional and sometimes private situations. Getting to know employees, their expectations and preferences requires building appropriate relationships. To gain employees’ openness is to gain and maintain their trust. This can be achieved by the manager’s openness to various opinions and by enabling employees to express their tasks during conversations. As a result, an atmosphere of trust will be built and employees will openly inform about their problems and errors, allowing them to be quickly repaired and corrected.

An opportunity to understand employees’ attitudes are:

  • Training (desire for further development, position in the group, commitment)
  • Joint business trips (observation of field work, opportunity to learn about the private situation during informal conversations),
  • Talks with employees and heads of other departments about the quality of cooperation between organizational units and individual persons,
  • Individual meetings.

Each manager should get to know his employees in a different way than in professional situations. Often, living outside work affects decisions taken in professional life. Lack of knowledge of the private sphere of employees may in some cases lead to non-objective assessments of their work. On the other hand, care should be taken that excessive intimacy and empathy do not cause decision-making paralysis of the manager in difficult professional situations.