Ray Collis

How Well Are You Selling Change?

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Are There Competing Commitments?

Here is the problem with change – people have made a commitment – they may earnestly want to change, but something stubbornly prevents them from doing what needs to be done.

Kegan and Laskow-Lahey  provide the example of cardiac care patients who fail to make the changes their doctors say are required.  But what greater motivation for change could there be that staying alive?

Change is not just an issue of awareness, or a motivation.  That is not enough!. Any change to become manifest requires that the organization, team or individual do more of certain things and less of others.

This brings us to the reason why changing behavior is tricky.   That is because existing patterns of behavior often have deep roots in terms of our psychology. Having closed the sale the challenge of changing behavior remains.

What does your customer need to do more, or less of, in order to act on their commitment?

We do what we do for a reason (however subconscious it may be).  That explains why we say we want something but act in a contradictory manner. Our behavior is based on our beliefs and emotions and these are variables that can be highly resistant to change.

That brings is to the nub of the problem – attempting to change behavior without changing underlying attitudes and beliefs is likely to result in failure.


Is There Immunity To Change?

The things that we need to start, or to stop doing are often silently over-ruled by a pre-existing commitment, or set of beliefs and assumptions.  This is what Kegan and Laskow-Lahey  call ‘immunity to change.’

Individuals and groups have immunity to change in the form of embedded behaviors.  These are habituated patterns of behaviour that are deeply rooted and psychologically, as well as emotionally driven.

For example a manager wants improved visibility and control in the business and better reporting by staff.  That requires buying the software to make it easy to collate the information.

However that is the relatively easy-part. Acting on the commitment means that the manager must change his behavior, particularly in terms of insisting on the reports being submitted by staff and following up with those who are unwilling, or unable to do so.

What attitudes and beliefs are holding your customer back from changing?

Therein lies the problem – such behavior runs counter to the manager’s ethos and the belief that senior members of staff in particular should be given autonomy to run their own parts of the business without excessive interference.

It also contradicts the manager’s desire to be seen as a friend, as well as a boss to all the staff. To the salesperson selling the software it is all very confusing. Next we will examine why…

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