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posted: 5/9/2017 1:00 AM

Why do we fear change?

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We live in a world that is constantly changing and it is our obligation to keep up with it. Change, unfortunately, is a phenomenon most of us are reluctant to embrace and, all too often, we are only willing to break away from our respective comfort zones when we have experienced a deep internal or threatening external motivation.

My wife, Gayle, gave me a grocery list of about 25 items the other day as I headed to our local grocery store. It was organized by department, making it easy for me to fill my cart in an expeditious manner. I picked up a random grocery cart and began my shopping excursion. About 100 feet into the store, I noticed it had a wobbly wheel that was not only creating quite a racket, but, also rattling all over the aisle as well. As other shoppers stared and cringed at the noise emanating from the bad wheel, I swiftly went into action by returning the cart and exchanging it for one with a smoother ride. Off I went again to complete my task, but, about five minutes into it, my focus was interrupted again by that dreadful racket! Someone else had grabbed the cart! I thought he would surely take it back and when he didn't, I was stunned. For the next 36.2 minutes, he filled the cart with about 50 items and the store with highly disruptive and dissonant sounds! Whereas I immediately ditched the cart, he was willing to tolerate it. As I left the store, I could still hear its clatter and began to wonder why he chose to live with something for which I had zero tolerance!

My unwillingness to accept the wobbly wheel and its consequences is a metaphor for how I view change. If I determine that something needs to be altered or modified, I jump in and execute a change to make it better, where others may passively choose to ignore or deny the problem.

In order to make critical changes necessary for greater selling success, we must pass through four distinct stages to complete the process. They hold true for all types of changes and must be followed in their natural order. The first stage involves Denial. Most salespeople deny they need to make modifications that might threaten their comfort zone. Take the example of those who consistently miss their monthly quota. They can either acknowledge that what they are doing is not working or continue in the same manner disregarding its negative impact. About 80 percent choose denial, repeat ineffective behaviors and hope that a miracle happens. The second stage is Resistance and is characterized by blaming the prospect, economy, company or any other possible external factor for an unattained goal. Many salespeople get and stay stuck in the first two stages of change and never experience the upside of the third stage, Exploration. This phase of change entails a shift to "what if" thinking. Exploring possibilities never considered before, enables salespersons to take a more positive approach to achieving greater success. They are, generally, increasingly willing to consider new techniques when prospecting, building stronger relationships, better qualifying prospects or other previously unexplored avenues to achieving their quota. The last stage of change is Commitment, where the revised course of action has become habitual; the salesperson's thinking changed and new behaviors were internalized and executed. Monthly quotas may be attained or exceeded with dramatically different behaviors that developed after working through the first two stages of change and moving into and through the third and last.

When you're in a rut or struggling to achieve a goal, it may be time to go through the process of change to determine if you are stuck in Denial or Resistance. Don't tolerate a "cart with a wobbly wheel!" Ditch it, get to Exploration and Commitment as soon as possible and liberate yourself. Go conquer your worlds!

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.