Why do sales people find it so difficult to add new skills to their selling process?
Because implementing new skills means adapting; it means change. And as a good rule of thumb, most of us hate change. It takes us out of our comfort zone. We resist change even if logically we know that the change will better us. Change makes us feel awkward, self conscious, and uncomfortable.
We do not derive the benefits that the training provided. The great ideas, tips, techniques and strategies get diluted and sales results more or less stay the same.
Don’t be a victim to change. By learning to adapt and become a little more flexible you’ll l embrace change and your sales will soar. Here are some thoughts on change to lend perspective and make the process of changing easier.
10 Thoughts on Change
Thought #1: Change is Intimidating
Change can be intimidating. When you are presented with a new skill, you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. You might (in fact, you probably will) fail at your first few attempts. Failure does not make anyone feel good and so we resist trying the new skill to avoid the failure.
Hey, it’s okay to be intimidated. Bur fear the change and change anyway. Know this up front: you will likely stumble and fall and momentarily fail. This is a short term and relatively painless event. It’s kind of like getting a needle from your doctor. It’s not real pleasant but after all is said and done, it’s no big deal.
Thought #2: Change Takes Thought
This is important. Often we attempt the change in skills or tactics without thinking about the process. We just dive in. That’s when things get murky. THINK about what you’re trying to attempt. Plan it out. In some cases, script it out. Draw a mind map or a call guide. Become familiar with the process. Make things easier for yourself by thinking one, two and three steps ahead.
Thought #3: Take Change Slowly
Old joke: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
When I conduct full day training sessions I see how overwhelmed many of the reps become. They seem to think that they have to implement everything on the next call. Not so. Take a technique or two and master that. Don’t worry about the rest. Then, add another new skill or two and build on what you have learned.
Thought #4: Change Takes Time
Far too many reps give up too soon. They try a technique for an hour or two or maybe even a day or two. It doesn’t seem to flow smoothly or work effectively so logic tells them to go back to what was comfortable. They give up. They quit. That’s sort of like going on a diet and not losing 10 pounds in two days. Losing weight takes time. So does developing a new skill.
In fact, studies show that it takes about three weeks to create a new habit. It might take you more, it might take you less but one thing is certain: change takes time. And that’s why you need to think about what it is you are attempting every single time. You have to be conscious that you are trying a new technique. It will feel odd at first but given time, the new skill becomes an unconscious action.
Thought #5: Get Help Changing
Know this: you don’t necessarily have to tackle change on your own. Go to your supervisor, manager, peer or friend and solicit their help. Ideally, you should have a coach (usually your manager) who can give you feedback – the good kind and the ‘not so good’ kind. The objectivity of a third party can make the change process faster and easier. So raise your hand.
Thought #6: Cheat Change
Good trainers provide sales reps with a whole host of tools -job aids- to help make the adoption of a new skill easier and faster. Such tangible job aids as pre-call planning sheets, opening statement templates, selling grids and objections charts make change a heck of a lot easier. You can, in effect, cheat change. You can peak at your notes. See your tools as cheat sheets. On the phone, no one can see what you have in front of you. Use them!
Thought #7: You Can Change
Guess what? You can change. Anyone can change provided they CHOOSE to change. My observation has been that many sales reps simply give up before they ever try. They defeat themselves mentally. Be positive! Choose success. Choose to change.
Thought #8: Celebrate Change Successes
Learn to recognize and accept that a change has been positive. For some bizarre reason, some sales reps seem to deny the success. Acknowledge the improvement. Celebrate the success and don’t look back. Shout to the heavens, “hey, it worked!” Share your success with others. When you pat yourself on the back you are likely to repeat the effort again and again.
Thought #9: Change Gets Easier
Here’s the neat thing about change: it gets easier. Every time you add a new skill, it gets that much easier. Part of the reason is that the intimidation factor is reduced with every new success. Another part is because you are mastering a skill or technique… you’re getting better.
Thought #10: Beware the Change Back
Here’s the last and maybe most important thing: the tendency to go back to your old ways will be very strong. Immense. This is called homeostasis. It’s like a great big magnet that will try to draw you back to where you once were. You see this a lot with dieters. They loose the weight and then they pack it back on. Why? Because the reverted to their old eating habits. They got complacent. They lost their discipline. Same thing in selling. You’ll discover the tendency to revert to old behaviors if you’re not vigilant. (This is where a good coach can help keep you focused)
Change usually not ‘fun.’ At times it is frustrating. But know this: change is good because it allows you to adapt. If you study the most successful sales reps in any company you will quickly discover that the key to their success is their ability to change when necessary.
So start changing today and watch your sales start growing tomorrow.