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When organizations follow a rigorous approach to change management, their success rate improves drastically. Axiom Consulting Partners, true to the company’s name, set about establishing this principle when detailing their work with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company at their session on day two of WorldatWork’s Spotlight on Sales Comp Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.
Presenters Tom Hill, partner, George Lagone, principal, and Kevin Andres, senior consultant, highlighted how they assisted sales growth at the tire company in their session “Driving Change Through Sales Incentives at Goodyear” on Tuesday morning.
Goodyear faced challenges with the number of customized incentive plans it had in place, and further worried that the salesforce lacked the motivation to drive sufficient sales results. In addition, top sales talent was difficult to find and retain. Axiom explained how Goodyear was able to meet these challenges and align its pay-mix, compensation, role clarity and incentive design to develop a new framework and approach to drive growth through active change management.
Axiom’s typical approach to change management, Hill noted, addresses the three common pitfalls associated with the practice:
- Lack of commitment.
- Insufficient skills and capabilities to execute the change.
- Not enough focus on sustaining the change.
To solve for this, Hill said, Axiom sought to create alignment by ensuring clarity around the business case and securing commitment to the vision of the transformation. They then provide the necessary tools to equip an organization by designing and implementing new processes and work systems, building manager and leader skills to more effectively lead change and training staff in new ways of working. Lastly, to sustain this, they go about identifying and sharing wins, measuring results to continuously improve and embedding new ways of working change in the culture.
“It should be a marathon and not a sprint,” Hill said. “One of the biggest hiccups with change management is people often times don’t even realize when it’s a success.”
Lagone noted that sales roles serve different buyers and channels, which can inform plan metrics and weighting. Axiom assessed the vision for how and when various roles interact in the sales process at Goodyear to maximize sales productivity, cross-selling opportunities and results.
“This helps us identify how much of a persuader a particular role is,” Lagone said.
When Axiom interviewed Goodyear during the consulting process, they found business objectives and alignment with sales incentives, top performers, hard thresholds and caps create cycling issues, as well as a differentiation in customer service for Canadian customers versus U.S. customers.
A high threshold and low cap forced sellers into a very tight performance range, which actually led to apathy among the sales performers, Lagone noted. Thus, the solution was to remove these caps and raise the threshold to drive higher performance.
Axiom relied on these guiding principles:
- Drive over performance
- Balanced — align measures to both Goodyear’s priorities and what sellers can affect
- Consistent and simple — differences across plans should be strategic and each plan should continue to be easy to understand.
Axiom emphasized the need to maintain a current balance of centralized uniformity and role-specific modifications once the new sales structure is adopted.
“Are there people selling the same in different areas of the business but they’re in different compensation plans,” asked Lagone. “If that’s the case, and they’re similar sellers, consolidate these plans across the different business units.”
The key questions that should be answered by those implementing the plan are:
- Why are we doing this?
- What are we going to accomplish?
- What does this mean for you (the seller)?
“It’s all about capturing the hearts and minds of these sellers,” Hill said.