Executive Sales Leader Briefing: Why Do Salespeople Resist Change?

Welcome to the Executive Sales Leader Briefing, a new blog series I am doing every Friday.

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We would think salespeople would be open to change, but I’m finding that not to be the case far too often.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been exposed up close to several sales organizations dealing with significant change and I continue to be amazed.

Salespeople — and I’m using the term broadly — can be quick to say how open they are to change, as long as they see the change as something happening in the future or to someone else.

When the change is now and it involves them, it is amazing how much resistance there is!

As a leader of a team, how should you respond? Unfortunately, what I’ve seen is the resistance demonstrated by salespeople is merely a reflection of what they see their manager doing.

Change is inevitable. It happens just as the seasons change, and as leaders we have to be both mentally prepared to handle it and smart enough to know how our teams will or will not receive it.

Be open with the team regarding the change. Don’t try to hide something.  Doing so will only make it worse, because if they don’t hear the entire story from you, they will seek it out from someone else. That typically leads to a lot of rumors.

As you communicate the change, the key is for people to know it’s not personal. It’s business, and as such, emotions and personal feelings have to be kept separate.

Dealing negatively about the downside aspects of the change will only serve to make things worse. If there’s a time to be an optimist, this is it.  Just don’t sugar coat. Be an optimist who lives in the real world.

Early in my career, I was part of a sales team that was being cut loose — not due to the job we were doing, but purely because of corporate restructuring. During this change, my immediate boss made the entire event personal and allowed himself and anyone who would listen to him to digress into the sewer.

The results became clear — he and a few others took several years to get their careers back on track. A few other people, including myself, chose to not align closely with him, and we moved on and were just fine.

What I learned at a very young age is attitude is everything when it comes to change.

Change in and of itself is not an issue. It’s how we choose to respond to the change that is either the problem or the opportunity.  The cards your salespeople will play with regard to their attitude start with you.

If your attitude doesn’t embrace the change, then most likely they won’t either.

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Copyright 2016, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.
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