How to Get Salespeople to Stop Resisting Change

I was listening to MLB Home Plate on XM Radio this morning.  Spring Training has begun and their station is buzzing with baseball news.  One story was about the many former stars that come to spring training sites to help the young players on their former teams.  Think about it for a minute.  Professional baseball players – those who have already made it – getting coached, mentored and tutored by all-time greats like Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Darryl Strawberry, Bobby Grich, Yogi Berra, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Tino Martinez, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Luis Tiant, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Robin Yount, Rickey Henderson, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Phil Niekro, Ferguson Jenkins, Will Clark, Dale Murphy, George Brett, and Frank White. 

If these young ball players are anything like most young salespeople, they’ll pretend to listen, ignore much of the advice, act like know-it-alls and fail to take advantage of a unique opportunity to bring their game to the next level.  But we know differently.  Most ball players, who understand the rich history of baseball, are thrilled to get some one-on-one time with these legends and will soak it in and take whatever they can get.

The resistance isn’t limited to young salespeople.  Veteran salespeople, especially those who have struggled to achieve and over achieve, are just as resistant.  It truly amazes me when someone who isn’t a star, and never has been, resists the help that is made available to them.  Perhaps the history of sales development isn’t as rich as the history of baseball.  We don’t have nearly as many stars as in baseball and since we don’t have our own versions of ESPN, FOX Sports, MLB Network and local sports anchors covering us, it may not be obvious who the real stars of sales development are.

…Some Professional Sales Development Experts are adept at overcoming resistance.  But sales managers not so much.  Salespeople may resist:

  • your coaching
  • being held accountable
  • being closely managed
  • using CRM applications
  • following the standardized company sales process
  • prospecting
  • thoroughly qualifying
  • asking rather than telling and presenting
  • selling rather than taking orders
  • following company policies
  • following account and market strategies
  • reporting
  • training and development

So what can you do about resistance?  For starters, don’t accept it.  I’m not suggesting that you should fight with your salespeople.  Im suggesting that you shouldn’t give up.  Have ongoing discussions with resistant salespeople about:

  • why they are resisting
  • why it’s important for them to listen and adapt
  • how it might affect their success, goals and income
  • consequences of failing to change.

Refer to this article I wrote about changing behavior in salespeople. It has the four steps that you can use to cause change.