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Changes happen all around us every day. Some changes we can control while others we can’t. It’s weird when you think about it because no one likes change. Once you get into a habit of doing things, you tend to stick to that habit because you feel that it is the best way to do things. Naturally, with change comes fear. The biggest fear is learning how to do something differently. People generally don’t want to take time out of their day to spend more time working to change something that isn’t broken in their mind. Some changes however, you can’t stop. These changes tend to be okay with people because naturally they have to live with them. Most of the time, as much as we may not want to admit it, change is usually a good thing. The well usually gets dried up and change is necessary to keep going forward. Some individuals look at change as the worst thing that can happen and they can’t get over it. They tend to complain non-stop forcing them to dislike the change before ever really giving it a chance. I’m not sure if that is the best way to utilize your time. If the change is happening, you better get on board or you will find yourself left behind. Others, embrace change. They look at it as a fresh start and go into it with arms wide open eager to learn and try new things.

Working in sales requires me to constantly get customers to think about change. At Everest, we are consistent in our message to our prospects and our customers that change can take your business to new heights. Unfortunately, when people think about change they think about it as more work and more time. According to linkedin.com, here are the top five reason why people don’t like change:

1.Our brains are wired from way back in caveman times for fight of flight whenever there is something new in our life (in caveman times, this new thing might be an animal that wants to eat you so flight is a good idea!). Neuroscience tells us that we react before we think. So our first reaction is to say no to change. And now we have the perception that we don’t want to change, that change is bad. And our perception becomes our reality. There are uncertainties around change. We really don’t know how things are going to go after the changes are put in place. Uncertainty is scary!

2. Preparing for change requires a lot of work. We have to learn new processes, systems, and new ways of doing things. And that is on top of our day job. This causes anxiety – what if I can’t do my job as well after the process changes? What if the new system is impossible to use (while user friendly may be in the requirements, it isn’t always the reality). What if I have to do more work after this change?

3. The organization usually tells us why the change is good for the business…or sometimes it doesn’t! But what does it do for me? We don’t always get that message and let’s face it, “what’s in it for me” matters. We have to take time out of our very busy schedules to get ready for the change so it helps to have strong motivation. Sometimes leaders don’t provide that motivation.

4. Many of the C level executives in an organization didn’t get to the top by worrying about people’s feelings. They are not the touchy-feely type (I didn’t say everyone). They do know how to network and they can be friendly but the CXO doesn’t need to be expert in HR. Worrying about whether the people of the organization have concerns about the major changes in progress often isn’t at the top of the Executive to-do list. Unfortunately, you can’t ignore that the people of the organization have to change and there are going to be some negative opinions about almost any change.

5. It could be that the people really understand and want the change. However, if major changes often fail in the organization, there is no trust that this next project is going to succeed or even be completed. No one likes working hard toward something that is likely to be abandoned or just won’t work.

These are all great reasons why someone would resist change. When change is a good thing though, how do we motivate the ones around us to accept and embrace the change? According to linkedin.com here is how you can do that:

1. Cleary communicate the need for change early and often. Ensure that the people understand the need for the change.

2. Talk with employees to get an understanding of their anxieties, concerns and issues around the change and determine actions required to address the issues. Don’t assume others have the same perception you do.

3. Work toward the answer of “what’s in it for me”. The answer is not about the company it is about how the individuals can see personal benefit from the change.

4. Monitor progress in preparation for the change. People need to be as proficient as possible when the change is implemented. This means paying careful attention to training needs so employees reach an expected level of competency. But before you train them, check on their internal desire for the changes. Training someone who does not want the change is ineffective.

5. Try promoting the change like a marketing campaign (with the organization as the audience). This can work wonders. I worked with a large organization that conducted a very successful transformational change across divisions around the globe. What was amazing about this change effort was that the leadership (from C level down to managers) united to motivate everyone in the organization. From the start of the initiative to the final phase, they ran a change campaign “selling” the change to the people. Significant organizational change across the enterprise is usually the most risky and problematic, yet this organization understood how to ensure success by:

  • Tying strategic goals to the initiative
  • Clearly communicating the benefit to the business and inspiring people to embrace the change so the organizations stays ahead of the competition
  • Tasking leaders and managers to determine personal impact and benefit to their direct reports and communicate this to the employees
  • Clearly, constantly and consistently communicating progress and successes along the way
  • Conducting face-to-face meetings with employees to understand and address issues and concerns

Let me share a quick story about a customer of ours who really resisted change.  Before we started working with this client they had an outdated website with zero CRM presence. They received leads once in a while through their website, called the lead one time, and if they did not answer they never followed up on the lead again. They had no way of tracking the sales cycle and knowing how long the average sale took. They had no way of tracking follow up and when customers needed another call. For this customer, you were either a customer or not. They did a very poor job of tracking prospects. We were introduced to this customer and it was like pulling teeth when proposing a new website and CRM. They were comfortable with their process and did not see the light at the end of the tunnel. We then started discussing the benefits of putting two new systems in place. Time savings, automation, attractive web presence, easy follow up, more revenue, etc. The customer was able to see through the fear of change and decided to dive in head first and go with a new CRM system and integrate the CRM system with a brand new website. We were also able to work on SEO for the website making it easier for internet users to find this company online. Let me share with you the outcome of change and what this did for the customer. The customer went from receiving roughly one to two leads a month through their old website to receiving roughly six to ten a week after the systems went live! All leads were dumped right into their new CRM system for the specific sales person responsible for that territory in which the lead came from. The sales cycle was reduced dramatically. This company is now closing more deals in a shorter time span. This is what it’s all about, creating more revenue in less time.

Change is never easy because it causes a huge fear! People get comfortable and set in their ways. The reality of it is change is necessary. If we never change then how can we possibly ever grow? As we all know, growth is necessary for success. Don’t fear change, embrace it! Not all changes work out but when they do it’s worth it. 

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