We have click on this link all heard the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” These well-worn clichés speak to one of the greatest truisms in life: change is hard — even when we want it. That’s because when we enact change, we’re moving ourselves from a place that is familiar and well-travelled (i.e. a comfort zone) to a place that can feel like uncharted waters – unfamiliar, murky, and downright scary. Not too comfortable, right?
Being able to push out of your comfort zone is the greatest factor in getting companies and salespeople to change and actually start using a new tactics and techniques. The divide between skills development training and the implementation of that training is what I call the Execution Gap.
The Execution Gap is based on a psychological concept called the momentary pleasure default. In any situation when we are faced with the option of being comfortable or uncomfortable, by default we will move towards comfort. This constant pull towards pleasure and away from pain works against our best intentions to change and try something new.
Here are four ways to avoid getting caught in the Execution Gap:
1. Have a set of specific personal goals
Personal goals are one of the primary drivers of desire because they can give you something tangible to focus on. If you have a strong desire and a passion for success you will more often live with the discomfort of trying something new. If you have clearly defined personal goals you will live with short-term pain for long-term gain, Professional goals are important but personal goals are more likely to be an incentive to change and drive internal motivation.
2. Have the “right” mindset
In many cases having the proper mindset can dictate whether you are able to change. If you are not open looking at new or different ways to sell, you probably won’t. I have heard salespeople say many times, “that won’t work in our industry.” They disqualify the approach without even trying. Being open to trying different approaches even when it feels uncomfortable, even when you are not really sure it will work; can be half the battle to bridging the Execution Gap. The right mindset can help you pave the way for change.
3. Make incremental changes
When trying to change your approach, focus on making small incremental improvements. If you try to change too many things at once, it usually leads to either confusion or paralysis. When you participate in any type of training, pick out the two or three concepts you want to implement first. After you have identified what you want to do, put together a brief plan with start dates before you leave the training. This will help you jump start the process.
4. Find ways to reinforce the change
You may find you are excited about the new concepts right after a training class and may even try the new approach a few times. But as you have probably experienced, as the days pass your comfort zone kicks in and you go back to the old ways of doing business. One way to help avoid this situation is to find ways to reinforce the new change over time. One of my clients had an excellent practice for this. He put an automatic reminder in his calendar to spend 15 minutes first thing in the morning reviewing his new sales methodology twice a week. This kept the training fresh in his mind and helped facilitate change.
Understanding the way our comfort zones inhibit behavioural change and putting strategies in place to help overcome this roadblock will make change easier and minimize the impact of the execution gap.