Ray Collis

How Well Are You Selling Change?

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Here are some of the strategies you can apply in order to help the customer to change and thereby maximize your prospect of winning the sale:

Changing Enabling Strategies For The Salesperson

1. Understand where the customer is at on the 5 step transition to change (as examined earlier) and focus your efforts there.  Is the problem one of awareness, or of taking action for example.

2. List the changes that are likely to be required by the customer and distinguish between hard and soft changes. Focus on the changes that pose the greatest challenge.

3. Use the 4 step questioning process outlined by Kegan and Laskow-Lahey to uncover and tackle immunity to change:

– What commitment is required?

– What behaviors are required by your customer – what do they need to do and indeed stop doing?

– What competing projects or commitments exist (that underpin those contradictory behaviors)?

– What underlying beliefs or assumptions need to be challenged?

4. Listen to any chatter which indicates confusion, uncertainty or disagreement regarding the planned changes.  It may serve a useful purpose – to alert to immunity to change.

5. Don’t over-rely on information, education and training as the vehicles for change.  Tackle the adaption, as well as the technical challenges around change.

6. Mix thinking with feeling in presenting  your pitch and proposal.  Logic or the business case alone is unlikely to change behavior.  Remember while you can justify with numbers, you must compel with emotions.

7. Stop complaining and criticizing your customers who struggle with change.  Try a more empathetic approach, seeking to understand what is preventing them from taking the action that is required.

8. Help your customer in the process of self-reflection.  That means helping them to stand back and to observe themselves and their behaviors. The objective is to shed the light of awareness of behaviors and beliefs that threaten to hold them back.

9. Understand the environment and culture of the organization – it sets the scene in terms of the rate of process that is likely to be achieved.

The environment or culture of the organization has a major role to play in immunity to change.

These things facilitate change These things hinder change
Effectiveness leadership

Good communication

Collaborative culture

Good teamwork

High levels of mutual respect

Willingness to innovate & take risks

High value placed on personal development

Learning culture

Openness & Trust

Willingness to make mistakes

Poor leadership

Blame culture

Back biting & Back stabbing

Lack of trust

High levels of uncertainty


Failure to follow through on commitments

Mandates and edits from ‘on high’

Conservative or risk-averse culture

Unwillingness to admit mistakes


10. Create a safe environment for the open discussion on change, as well as the honest exploration of attitudes and behaviors that could prevent it.

– Don’t assume that people are aware of their dysfunctional behaviors, or limiting fearful beliefs.

– Don’t let it get personal – it is about people’s attitudes and behaviors rather than the people themselves.

11. Facilitate the discussion on the process of change, including defining or planning:

– First steps

– Progress milestones

– Success

12. Focus the change effort on the ‘One big thing’ that the group overall, or each key person, needs to change.

That involves asking questions, such as:

– What is the single thing that you think is most important for you, or your team to get better at?

– What single change if made would have the greatest potential impact on success?

– What single change if made would allow you to maximise the chances of success of this initiative?

– What single obstacle if removed would clear the way for you to make most progress in this area?


This insight leverages the work of Kegan and Laskow-Lahey applying it to the context of the complex sale. Their research can be viewed at:

Kegan and Laskow-Lahey – Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good)

Kegan and Laskow-Lahey – How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation

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