How recently did your company leadership issue a directive implying that the sales team must change their behavior? Not long ago, if yours is like most revenue organizations. Whether it’s framed as changing from tactical to strategic selling, focusing on solutions instead of products, or prospecting deeper into buying groups, most institutions habitually move the goal line for their sellers. At a certain point, we should all be expecting that the cheese is constantly moving.

Change is very hard, mostly necessary, and usually worth it.

None of us do the exact same work, for the same organization and for the same customers, that we did only a few years ago, nor will we replicate today’s activities in 2026. Modern-day business is too dynamic and the composition of buyers changing too quickly to afford this kind of luxury. Change abounds in what we sell, to whom we sell, how we sell, and against whom we compete. Exacerbating this environment of continual change is an ever-shortening tenure of CMOs, CSOs, and other executive leaders, many of whom look primarily for “quick wins” and immediate paybacks as a result.

Change, specifically in how we expect our sellers to behave, is therefore inevitable, but simultaneously, it’s also something from which most humans instinctively turn away. It’s hard, scary, and anxiety-inducing, even for those of us who insist via our LinkedIn profiles that we thrive on it. But if you work in or around B2B sales, you’ve likely got some instincts for chasing down your objectives, even when the goal line moves. Helping your sales force similarly adapt to new motions requires a combination of change management expertise, sales competency management technique, and strategic sales talent management thinking.

Change takes time, patience, communication, communication, and communication.

There is plenty of great literature supporting best practices in change management, including from Forrester. Revenue enablement leaders can assure change management success by pushing back on impatient executives who demand that sellers and other customer-facing professionals adapt to or adopt something unfamiliar to them on demand; by utilizing proven sales communication and rep advocacy strategies; and by always framing change initiatives through the simple lens of: “Why are we doing this? What does it mean for each individual? What needs to be done differently?”

One of the most crucial resources to leverage in assisting sellers with change is their direct manager. The Forrester Sales Manager Change Activation Process details the five stages — define, align, develop, implement, manage — through which managers can serve as a bridge between corporate initiatives and seller adaptability. Your manager layer will also help pilot, test, and repair flaws in your change initiatives, if you empower them to be active participants in rolling out new sales motions and competencies.

Competency maps are the foundation of seller adaptability.

Most change initiatives that impact B2B salespeople boil down to one basic demand: “We are changing ‘what good looks like’ for your role, so your overall competencies need to adapt.” This is totally fine, but too often, revenue leaders mistakenly believe that evolving their sellers’ capabilities is no more complex than rejiggering the architecture around their selling motions. They change (a code word for “raise”) quota expectations, invent a new product mix, or tweak compensation models to drive behavioral change using what they believe to be straightforward carrots and sticks. Only after such crude measures fail to work do some leaders recognize the need for retroactive training to support the newly desired skills, knowledge, or process awareness necessary to adapt to the new motions.

This trial-and-error approach is counterproductive. If you need your sellers to start behaving, saying, or doing something differently, start by proactively communicating to them about the “why” and “how” behind organizational change. Then, clearly frame the new competencies — whether mandatory or optional — as the organic next step in how they, their customers, and your company are continuously evolving the revenue ecosystem. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell the team, “Our business continues to evolve, and your key role in supporting it needs to keep pace; there’s something new we’d like you to be great at.” Close the loop by providing consistently deployed learning opportunities for them to learn, practice, and perfect their new competencies. This is especially key for B2B sales teams, whose essential competencies are far more likely to change regularly than most other business roles.

“If you can’t change your people, change your people.”

This famous Jim Collins quote underscores one of the most controversial aspects of change management: making hard decisions about whether current employees are up to the new competencies you ask of them. They might be, if change is handled well, or it’s possible that new talent within the sales force is required. Either way, changing people can be a challenge.

A customer once asked for help in transitioning their team from selling transactional $25,000 opportunities to closing strategic $250k deals. The enablement team was tasked with playing catch-up with a dramatically new corporate strategy after broad go-to-market changes had already been launched. This is akin to learning a foreign language while already on the plane to a new country. The afterthought of “Let’s train everyone to adapt to what we’re suddenly now doing” did not result in success; the organization had to retreat and eventually relaunch with a painfully reimagined sales force.

Had better executive alignment been in place in this situation, revenue and enablement leaders would have had more runway to determine whether, and how, their sales talent could support the change. The opportunity to proactively test new competency deployment, and to recognize the human capital cost of deciding on 10x growth in deal size, might have better informed their leadership during earlier planning stages.