The Four Key Traits of a Successful Go-To-Market Changemaker

Seventy percent (70%) of all digital transformation initiatives do not reach their goals according to a recent McKinsey survey. The most common roadblocks were listed as a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or nonexistent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability.

Transformations fail because of people.

Most organizations are facing a need for transformation of their go-to-market in order to drive predictable and sustainable growth. Holistic, demand-side transformation touches everyone from sales, marketing, and leadership to IT, operations, and finance. People are the key to success (or failure) and so finding the right person to lead demand-side change is the key to successful transformation.

ANNUITAS has led organizations through dozens of go-to-market transformations. Through these experiences, we have identified four key traits that indicate whether a changemaker will have a high chance of success or not. These traits are:

  • Personality
  • Accountability
  • Title and Role in the Organization
  • Ability to Manage Risk

Each of these traits will impact a person’s ability to lead both their peers and their leadership team to the finish line. Read on to learn how to assess these traits within your organization.

Your Leader’s Personality

Changing your sales and marketing motions requires the right personality. However, when 9 out of 10 sales and marketing professionals say they are misaligned across strategy, process, content, and culture, tensions run high and the risk of confrontation is ever-present. Selecting the right leader is critical.

When looking for the right personality, understand that the most successful changemakers:

  • Inspire and motivate other people
  • Lead by example
  • Respectfully speak up if they don’t agree with something

They’re authoritative, but they don’t cross the line into authoritarian. These people are comfortable driving change, and that’s the type of person you want on your team. Looking for that personality type may not seem like it should be a first priority but underestimating the human element when driving change within your go-to-market organization is one of the greatest mistakes you can make.

A History of Accountability

Lack of accountability is listed as one of the four main reasons that transformation initiatives fail in the McKinsey survey. If change within your organization is driven by a person or department that has historically struggled with accountability, then your initiative is immediately at risk of failing.

For many long-time marketing leaders, being held accountable at a sales/income outcome level and having the ability to track end-to-end results is fairly new, so when leading a change initiative, it’s critical that you select a changemaker who has both the right personality and a track record of working towards real-world results.

This may mean that you need to institute new processes or track different KPIs, and it most certainly means you’ll need to shift your mindset to one that focuses on outcomes. We recommend reading the article, Demand Marketing KPIs and Metrics to Monitor, which outlines how to make that shift while providing key takeaways for why measurement is critical to a successful transformation.

A Changemaker’s Title and Role

Many companies make the mistake of assuming that top-level leadership must be the ones to drive change, but inadequate management support is a main reason why transformation initiatives fail. There is a crucial nuance to achieving success. The person leading the project doesn’t necessarily have to be the same person who leads the change management workstream. It’s more important to look for the right personality or the person that has the right relationships within the organization – someone who can be a catalyst – than it is to rely on the person with the “right” job title.

The truth is that no one person can lead change management. That, in and of itself, is a failure. The key is having representation across functions, departments, and levels within the organization – pervasive stewardship.

While you may have leaders at the top driving the message and setting the requirements, it’s necessary to have team involvement across the board to drive authenticity and support. Seeing peers lead by example is not only impactful, it promotes adoption across departments. Those that rely exclusively on top-level leadership to drive change find that their initiatives often fall flat.

If you have a very siloed org chart, this is a hard concept to execute upon. When thinking about how your initiative will be managed throughout the company, you must also think about the way your internal teams are organized. The article, How Your Org Chart Can Make or Break Your Demand Marketing Transformation provides an excellent outline for the role each team should play in any project that involves change.

Ability to Lean on Partners in Order to Manage Risk

Change management is risk management. It can be nearly impossible to inspire change across an organization, especially in a large company with competing interests and divided business units. But it can be done. Having an internal champion (or champions) who can bring everybody on board is necessary, but the reality is that leading change internally often fails. Priorities are reorganized, project leaders leave, or funding is stopped. To really realize change, you need an external partner.

Speaking from the experience of leading demand transformation herself, a former ANNUITAS client says, “It’s really important to have an external partner holding you accountable and pushing you along the way. If you know that you have people behind you that have done this before, you’re confident that you can take that knowledge and facilitate change.”

With a partner at your side, changemakers have an ally that can guide everyone through the toughest twists and turns of change, greatly increasing your chances of success.

Change is hard, but it’s not impossible. Choosing the right person to lead your change management efforts can greatly increase your odds of success. While it may take time and energy to find the right leader, he or she is there, within your organization, ready to take on the challenge.

To learn more about this topic read the articles, How to Successfully Manage Change in Your Organization and Aligning Your Stakeholders to Achieve Demand Marketing Transformation Success.

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