4 Effective Ways to Sell Change

4 Effective Ways to Sell Change
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How to Sell Change
When you have determined that change is needed at your organization, you have taken only the first step on the journey.  If you are committed to succeeding at change, it helps to understand how a bit of salesmanship can support and bolster your plan.  Successful change leaders know the effective ways to sell change to their stakeholders.

Our Definition of Selling Change
Many change leaders and employees hear “selling” as a dirty word.  It conjures up images of dishonest car salesmen or insincere leaders trying to manipulate people into doing something that they should not or do not want to do.  That is not what we mean by selling change.

When we talk about selling change, we are focused on creating a clear, meaningful, compelling, honest, transparent, believable, and relevant business case and plan for change using the art and science of storytelling.  You will know you are on the right path when you have a simple approach for building trust and inspiring action through your change story that includes:

  • Knowing Your Personal Story for Change
    Understanding your own story as a change leader or change champion allows you to leverage your passion and perspective as you craft a change narrative others will say yes to.
  • Having Clear Goals for Every Moment of Truth
    Each and every interaction with those affected by change matters.  Always know why are you communicating, what do you hope to accomplish, and if the timing makes sense.
  • Understanding Your Target Audience
    The change story needs to be about your audience, not you.  Invest the time to understand your audience and what matters most to them.
  • Preparing for Success
    Your final step is to define what success would look like, prepare for the most likely questions and obstacles that you will face, and practice. Then practice some more.

4 Effective Ways to Sell Change
Change management consulting experts have learned that what works in trustworthy sales can work with change initiatives.  And just like any sales situation, there are effective ways to sell change and there are ineffective ways to sell change.  Here are some steps, borrowed from a typical sales cycle, that can be translated into effective ways to sell change:

  1. Know Your Clients
    The best salespeople understand how important it is to know their clients – their business, their priorities, their challenges, their personal and professional ambitions. They learn all they can about those that they need to influence so they can empathize with their situation and more effectively present their case to help them be successful.

    It behooves change leaders also to know their stakeholders, including employees, influencers, customers, and even naysayers.  When you know what your various stakeholders care most about and why, you can more easily understand how to best work with them.  This allows you to enroll friends as supporters and to identify how to overcome obstacles with those who are not yet on board.

  2. Paint a Clear and Compelling Picture
    Smart sellers know how to paint a clear and compelling picture of what it would look like when the client’s problem is solved. They understand that if they create a vision for the client of the desired future, the client is much more likely to buy into the solution.

    Change leaders can use the same approach to help employees envision how the proposed change will make things better personally and professionally.  The more clearly they can define that future, the more persuaded their stakeholders will be.  The message should be easy to understand and it should include why the change is necessary as well as how it will affect the business and individual employees.

  3. Build the Relationship
    Just as trust is the basis for winning long-term sales partnerships, it is also the foundation of successful change. Every interaction should emphasize the message and its importance.  Your constituents need to believe that you are being straightforward and honest in your dealings with them, that you are actually capable of pulling this change plan off, that you have the backing of those that matter (executives and influencers), and that you are in it for the long haul.
  4. Follow Through
    The best solution sellers don’t walk away once the deal is sealed. Their focus is on building customer loyalty, satisfaction and success.  They do this by staying connected and monitoring the solution’s effectiveness.

    So, too, must change leaders continue to track the results of the change initiative and stay in touch with their employees to make sure all is going as planned.  If not, they should be prepared to explore what is going wrong and figure out what needs to be adjusted.

The Bottom Line
The process of change has much in common with the sales process.  Both require an intimate knowledge of the players, an ability to inspire with a vision of the future, a relationship built on integrity, and consistent follow through.

To learn more about how to look at change from different perspectives, download The 5 New Lenses of Change Leadership

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