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Why Sales Is So Resistant to Change

It seems like it should be easy to convince B2B salespeople to try something new. After all, these people are in the business of getting others to purchase new products and services. It just stands to reason that they would be open to change themselves.

But much like the proverbial cobbler’s children who have no shoes, salespeople are often extremely resistant to trying new things.

A recent study on the personality traits of successful salespeople sheds a little light onto why that might be the case. First, sales team members—particularly top performers—are very achievement oriented. They focus incessantly on their goals, and most have developed their own methods and processes for maximizing their sales. If you want them to change those methods and processes, you better have a darn good argument for doing so. After all, their paychecks depend on on how well they do their jobs.

Second, the study also found that while salespeople describe themselves as optimists, most are actually pessimists, especially if they are good at their jobs. They have perfected the art of appearing upbeat while secretly nurturing a lot of cynicism inside their own heads. So even if the sales team smiles and seems to agree with you when you propose a change, you can be sure that many—including top earners who probably have the most sway in the organization—are harboring some internal doubts.

In addition, organizations are naturally resistant to change. Businesses set up systems and processes that are designed to be efficient and productive and to “run themselves” with minimal external input. But these highly desirable characteristics also make it very difficult to modify these systems and processes, even when it’s necessary.

As a member of the sales operations team who needs to convince the sales team to do things differently, the deck is really stacked against you. Not only is it extremely difficult to make changes within an organization, you’re talking to people who have change-resistant personalities.

But don’t give up hope.

It’s not only possible to convince a sales team to try something new, it’s possible to get them excited about it. And while the process will take some time, you can probably get everyone on board in less time and with less pain than you currently imagine.

The key is following the most effective process for facilitating change. If you do it right, you’ll have the sales team agreeing to make changes and maybe even asking why it took you so long to suggest them! The webinar Making Change Happen details this process and examines real world situations where it was and wasn’t followed. If you need to convince the sales team—or any other group—to do things a little differently, you may be able to save yourself some grief by going through this tutorial first.

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