Living the Dream

Perspective from the field

How to change behavior January 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenward @ 10:43 pm

As a Sales Leader, I often coach reps on the “art of the sale”.  I find that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of many reps is that they prioritize the Relationship with the customer above all else.  Listen – we all know that relationships are important.  People want to do business with people they like.  However, it’s also important that reps are skilled in being a Change Agent (that term makes me think of James Bond with an MBA).  Bottom line, sales reps need to become comfortable with making others uncomfortable.

Nature is to resist change – to continue with what is proven and safe.  The unknown is scary – it comes with new sets of questions about what might be.   An effective way to elicit change is through careful exploration of negative stimulus.  Let’s think about migrating animals.  The negative stimuli – be it lack of food, or cold temperatures, or overcrowding – these negative conditions are what stimulate migration.  Otherwise, everybody would probably stay put.  It’s the same with humans.  Most people won’t change what they know to be safe and comfortable unless there is something making them uncomfortable with where they already are.  To sell someone on something new – you must present them not only with the benefits of the new situation, but the drawbacks of the old.

Of course, those of us that are early adopters are slaves to whatever is new or cool (we are the geeks that were online today to get our orders in for the i pad).  For us, the potential negative stimulus is being envious of those that have the latest gadget in their bag while we get left behind with old technology.

The most successful reps – the most persuasive individuals –  are those balance the benefits of the new product / gadget / service / concept while also carefully painting the picture of remaining with the status quo.


7 Responses to “How to change behavior”

  1. Keenan Says:


    You absolutely nailed it. I’ve never crystallized it like this before.

    I love this quote:

    “sales reps need to become comfortable with making others uncomfortable.”

    I am going to adopt this. It is a fantastic POV for what it is we do.

    Great first post.

  2. Toff Says:

    This makes sense. I rarely ever push for a sale from a client, yet I routinely see companies who do a lower level of quality take sales away from me because they push the clients really hard. I’ve ended up with many clients who went with someone else to build their site and then a year later came back to me to fix what the first company did. Pretty much, all of my business comes from recommendations from previous clients or people I have already worked with.

    I have a client today that is struggling with the decision to rebuild his 8 year old simplistic website (and poor artwork) with a well designed site able to handle all of the features he wants. Money doesn’t seem to be a factor. He is nervous with change. It’s summed up with “The unknown is scary”.

    • jenward Says:

      Toff – your opportunity is to not only tell him how well you can perform in rebuilding his site, but also what can happen if he doesn’t. His business could be viewed as shoddy, outdated and second rate – people will make snap judgements off of first impressions with websites just as they do with each other. Talk to him about all the bells and whistles you can bring him – but also talk about what could happen if he keeps what he currently has.

      I have friends who build websites and one of the comments that I have heard them say to clients is that they are as fully vested in the successful execution of the website as the client is. Every website that a developer builds is a part of their durable portfolio – so by telling the customer that their site matters and is personal to you, you are setting up a shared interest in producing the very best end product.

      Good Luck to you! Let me know if you gain him as a client!

    • Keenan Says:

      Toff, ask a lot questions. Why do they want to rebuild his website? Why doesn’t he? What do they get from the site today? Are they aware of they COULD get. What is their competition doing?

      Questions are the best way to push customers, while at the same time not appearing pushy. It allows the customer to get their on their own.

      As Jen said, it’s your job to create a “vision” of what could be vs. what is and make that gap huge.

      Good luck!

    • Keenan Says:

      Toff, I put your comment on my blog and asked for feedback. I got some good suggestions. Check it out and let us know if any of it helps. Hope it does.

  3. Bill Rice Says:


    Your off to a marvelous start! I just found you (and I’m glad I did) via Keenan’s post referencing this discussion. WHat a great topic on “making others [prospects] uncomfortable.”

    I think this a critical sales training topic in a market that is nothing but change. I agree as sales folks we need to get really good at making prospects and customers really uncomfortable with sitting still.

    Ditto on Keenan’s comment–amazing start!

  4. Stan Read Says:

    Jen – Change agent – coin that ! I could not get your statement out of my head today “About being comfortable with making others uncomfortable”. What a great viewpoint for sales representatives.

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