When a dealership decides to change technologies, the transition can be hard on everyone. Those changes seem to be especially difficult, though, for dealership sales professionals. Because their pay is heavily based on performance, they often worry that new technologies will interfere with their established routines and inhibit their ability to earn a living. But, for any significant change initiative to be successful, dealerships must achieve broad-based support, including buy-in from the sales team. Dealership managers can earn that buy-in by involving the sales team early in the process, communicating with empathy, openly discussing organizational challenges, and offering continual employee training.
Involve the Sales Team Early
The Society for Human Resource Management encourages business managers to “communicate early and often” when navigating major transitions within their companies. People are more receptive to change when they’ve had a chance to prepare for and shape the nature of that change. Whether implementing a new DMS, CRM, or other platform, sales teams should be informed of change early in the process and should be given the opportunity to provide input along the way. Dealerships should continue to engage salespeople even after conversions have taken place by offering training and other resources.
Communicate with Empathy
It’s not enough to simply inform salespeople of impending changes. Communications must be authentic and informed by empathy. According to one change management professional, “communicating during a transition is all about viewing the situation through the eyes of stakeholders, of all those who are affected by the change.” When preparing for a change, dealership managers need to remember that sales are how these people earn a living and that any technology change could directly impact their ability to perform. Because new technologies could affect their incomes, sales professionals deserve to know that their success is being considered at every step in the process.
Openly Discuss Organizational Challenges
While empathy is necessary, communications should also be entirely honest. Some dealerships hide problems from sales professionals so that they aren’t distracted from the important task of selling cars. But, research has shown that employees are more open to change when they understand organizational challenges. According to one recent study, “only 35% of leaders are Always or Frequently sharing challenges, and that means that nearly two-thirds of leaders are missing this essential ingredient of change management.” Salespeople need to understand that their dealership is making a change for a legitimate business reason, and not simply for the sake of change. When sales professionals know that new technologies have the potential to resolve company-wide problems, they tend to look beyond their own needs in order to consider the overall benefits to their organizations.
Offer Continual Employee Training
During the process of open communication with the sales team that you are considering a shift in technology, it’s imperative they know there will be resources to learn the new technology. This is an essential part of the buy-in process. Salespeople are likely to resist change because they know it will impact their ability to do their jobs. Offering continual employee training will not only address their concerns, but will also help you express the importance of having a team culture that is consistently learning the latest and greatest technologies that will benefit your business.
Successful technology change within a dealership requires broad support, including buy-in from the sales team. Salespeople often resist major change initiatives because they worry that new technologies will impact their ability to do their jobs and to earn a living. Dealership managers can overcome that resistance by following several important rules of change management, by engaging in early, honest, and empathetic communication, and by offering continual employee training opportunities.
Kai Nielsen is the Director of Strategy and Business Operations at Dealertrack DMS.