Part I of this series, Is Your TPM Stuck In Neutral, elaborated on the reality that many organizations continue to be underwhelmed by the current state of affairs where trade promotion management (TPM) is concerned. In this blog, we discuss how one of the challenges impeding success is organizational alignment with the solution being better field sales engagement, proper sponsorship and an effective organizational change management program.
Trade Promotion Management (TPM) fundamentally changes conventional ways of working for many field sales organizations. It promotes increased visibility and granularity of trade spend, accountability for return on investment, and standardization of associated processes. While all of these are highly desirable from a corporate standpoint, they may be perceived as overly intrusive HQ mandates and even be viewed as impediments or threats to some traditional sales forces.
As is widely understood, the sales force is clearly the most critical stakeholder group for making trade promotion management programs successful. Overlooking or downplaying their inherent conceptions throughout the planning, implementation and support phases will lead to less than optimal outcomes, both in the short and long term. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, organizations should embed organizational change management to proactively shape expected outcomes and increase the probability of success.
A well crafted organizational change management program is essential for building field sales adoption and also for engaging the broader stakeholder universe. Based on my experience, those who fail to deliver effective change management programs typically fall into one of two categories:
- They consider it as an afterthought way too late in the game, or
- They operate under the false premise that it can be executed as a discrete “episode” when in fact it should actually be implemented as an integrated, disciplined process.
Make no mistake, change management is a very demanding process made all the more challenging when dealing with field sales organizations that work remotely and may be acculturated to think and operate in unique ways as compared to the rest of the organization. More specifically, an effective change management program requires significant business process knowledge and the ability to analyze changes in roles and responsibilities for field sales and other affected functions. It necessitates a re-look at goals and reward systems to ensure traction and sustainability. It involves a strategically crafted 2-way dialogue plan appropriately tailored for the targeted audience, in this case field sales, as well as a process and metrics to evaluate change performance. The old adage that “you get what you measure” rings true time and again.
Additionally, a successful change management program requires a visible champion or team of champions from the senior leadership ranks who possess the intrinsic ability to inspire and influence. For trade promotion programs, the ideal champion should originate from the Demand side of the business – Field Sales or Trade Marketing and not IT – and possess immense credibility with the sales organization because ultimately sales’ ownership and level of engagement determines failure, mediocrity or success. A Champion that emanates from outside the Demand function will likely produce unintended negative consequences and elevate the failure risk profile by diluting field sales ownership and commitment. My advice – choose your champion with extreme care as this will have an outsized impact on goal realization.
Borrowing from a paper recently published by my Clarkston colleagues, ask these questions to assess the effectiveness of your change management program if you’re disillusioned or questioning the value of your TPM program:
- Has the TPM value proposition been communicated in a way that is personal (as opposed to general)?
- Are the WIIFM, “why it’s important” and “change impact” messages getting communicated across field sales?
- Are you confident that those directly impacted by TPM and those who can influence TPM outcomes are truly bought in, and not simply aware?
- Do you have a change management process for corrective action when there is “grumbling” in the ranks?
Click here for the full story: Want Successful S&OP, It’s the Soft Stuff That Matters.
The “soft stuff” for effective TPM transformations also demands flawless execution for training and education programs. I’ll address this subject next in the series.
In closing, Clarkston Consulting’s comprehensive Change Management Roadmap takes these factors into consideration and recognizes the full impact of human, organizational and technical aspects of business process changes in TPM implementations. Clarkston understands the strategic significance of trade spend for CP organizations and integrates vision, strategy, business process acumen, software knowledge and organizational change management “know-how” to help leading CP organizations on their trade spend optimization journeys.