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Be A Change Agent

Change is Inevitable, Simple, But Not Easy. For salespeople, to change is no different for us than anyone else.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  And it is especially hard when you don’t want to change.  You’ve heard the phrase “change agent”.  To be a change agent you must embrace the challenge, opportunity or creation of change and make it happen.  Easy!  Really easy!  Not!!

We can give so many reasons as to why change isn’t a good thing or a workable thing or a smart thing, especially when it impacts “me.”  But the gross fact is that we do need to be a change agent at some point in our sales career.  Some of those changes might be small and some monumental.  However, avoiding it, trying to sabotage it or taking a “dig my heals in” attitude only makes it worse. 

If you don’t want to be a change agent—I mean really don’t want to change—and you’re in a sales position, it may be time to evaluate your career path or career field.  On the other hand, if you want to be open to change, whether given externally or driven internally, you’ll need to address and embrace these simple ABCs:

Attitude

Most everyone that has been in any type of sales training during their career has heard of Zig Ziglar.  He had a saying—“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  In other words, you may have the ability to get the job done, but your attitude has more to do with your success.  Moreover, we all know someone with a bad attitude who is a constant roadblock as well as a “glass half full” person with a “can do” attitude that makes things happen.  One is a drain and the other pumps you up.  

How do you check your own attitude?  Ask for feedback from those you work with and that should include your direct reports and/or peers and your own supervisor. If you can’t or won’t, force it by utilizing an off-the-shelf, 360 evaluation process.  You’ll get solid feedback, albeit anonymously.  Also, read all you can about attitude, talk with others about it and actively work on a productive attitude toward gaining altitude.  Remember the adage ‘you are who you surround yourself with?’  Spend more time with the half-full, can-doers.  It will rub off!

Believe

What?!  Yes…exactly.  Believe.  You must believe that you will change. To believe is an active exercise, not a passive wish or hope. You will need to not only force yourself into a reality check, but you’ll need an attitude adjustment, no doubt, as we just covered.  Above all, you’ll need a full-blown, “all in”, get after it, no holds barred, no looking back, I’ve got this, attitude.  And that attitude will need to be grafted to your belief that you will change or accept the change placed in front of you. 

How will you believe?  The dictionary definition of believe is: “to accept as true or real.” Think of it this way.  When a child’s parent is just inches away and says, “jump, I’ll catch you”, that child must believe for the “jump” to take place.  Similarly, if I’m a sales manager and the company is changing my comp plan and my team’s comp plan, I must believe it so that I can embrace the change, and lead my team to embrace it too.

Commitment

With a good attitude and a belief that you can change or embrace a change, it is time to move into the commitment phase.  NFL coach and legend, Vince Lombardi, said this about commitment: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”  This was a man that understood that a commitment—a personal contract if you will—was required to move toward change in life or in one’s chosen field.  

What does commitment entail?  Commitment takes active work—daily.  It is an on-going effort.  To do that, you’ll need to find reinforcing ways that work for you.  For example, find an accountability partner.  Post your commitment as a reminder on your laptop.  Actively talk about it with trusted friends or a mentor.  Schedule a meeting with yourself to document your commitment – what’s pulling you toward it and what’s pulling you away.  However, don’t just say you’re going to commit.  Write it down, say it aloud.  Be active and very intentional in your commitment.

In conclusion, change isn’t easy, but to make change in yourself and embrace change around you, you’ll need to adjust your attitude, believe and make a commitment to change and be a change agent.

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