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Why won’t those dinosaurs ever change?

Don't miss the boat

Have you asked, “why can’t those dinosaurs get it, why can’t they see that [Digital or Social or Big Data or your preferred new approach] is the future of sales and marketing?”  If so, this post is for you.

As a C-level executive coach for nearly 30 years, I know something about how to help people overcome roadblocks to change.  Yet, everywhere I go, I hear the same chant: “People resist change!”  And, I hear this so often, from so many directions, that even I struggle to remember that it’s simply NOT TRUE!

People don’t resist change.  In fact, people routinely change their behaviors – IF they believe that the change will get them a better result than they get now.  People resist change only when it’s forced on them and/or when they believe the outcomes will be worse than the ones they get now.  So, if you want others to adopt your new approach, you must help them see the value of the proposed approach FROM THEIR VIEWPOINT.

So, how do you sell a proposal into another person’s viewpoint?

FIRST – Begin with the other person’s viewpoint, and not with your idea.  People have heard over and over, “don’t just bring me a problem, bring me a solution.”  So, whenever a person thinks they’ve found that solution, they want to run and tell everyone.  But, in their moment of triumph, they often forget to provide the necessary context that helps the listeners understand why he/she should care.  So, the first step is to start with the other person’s viewpoint.

  • I think you’re concerned about finding new methods to attract and convert prospects, and also about measuring the impact of non-traditional campaigns.
  • Do I understand your concerns correctly?

SECOND – provide a specific description of your proposal, and then help the other person answer three critical questions that can lead a person to commit:

  1. Is your proposal COMPELLING – does your proposal address a critical issue or interest?
  2. Is your proposal VALID – will your idea work the way you claim, will it deliver a good result, and how can I test what you’re telling me?
  3. Is your proposal IMPLEMENTABLE – do I understand what you expect me to do, and do I believe that I can do it?

THIRD – give people the information they need to make their own decision, without needing to rely on you.

  • DON’T use information the other person doesn’t understand (like technical jargon).
  • DO use examples and cases the other person can test.
  • DON’T make “trust me” claims (“trust me, I’ve been here before, I know this works”).
  • DO explain the cause and effect of your proposal (“here are the five steps, here’s how they work, here’s why they will create the desired result”).

FINALLY – help people understand the risks of staying in place, not just the benefits of changing.  This step is critical because of how people calculate the potential benefits of a change.  People don’t simply look at benefits you predict that you will create, they look at the value of that benefit compared with the results of their current approach AND then also assess the risk of failure. IF the risk is too great or the perceived gain too small, then people will never adopt your proposal, unless you can surface hidden risks of staying in place (“as social media tools expand, and online sales grow, traditional selling methods and skills may lose effectiveness, not because they aren’t useful but because people aren’t paying attention.  Does that risk concern you?)

If you employ these four steps when you pitch you next great idea, then you should be able to improve your chances of success and also help those dinosaurs escape extinction!


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