Change Process ModelWe need to change.

You need to change.

I see a change.

We’re making a change.

These are not the statements people want to hear.

Heck, these are not the statements many people want to speak either.

Why? Why is change—the actual process of or the idea of change—so tough?

Because…it means change!

Change is not easy. 

  • Something is different.
  • Something needs to be done differently.
  • We need to get our hands and head dirty using more energy—physical and mental.
  • The people around us are reacting in different ways.
  • There is potential risk and uncertainty.

If you don’t think understanding how to move through change is important because you are in sales, management, or customer service, think again.

Any job working with people can be more effective by helping a prospect, customer, or employee accept the idea of a change or by taking action on a change. The change may be a change in supplier, a change in how they currently do something, or a change in policy.

So what can we do to not only accept the change, but to act upon it sooner and more easily?

First, understand what happens when someone is faced with change. Following is a model that explains the predictable process people go through when there is a change. Then I share a few tips on moving through changes.

This model is a little different than most in that the stages start at the bottom and spiral up. It begins with becoming aware of a change.

The stages of change:

AwarenessAn announcement or realization that something’s different: new information, product, process, initiative, and /or people.

  • Assessment – Questions surface to identify: why, where, when, who, and how.
  • Adjustment – Willingness to ‘try’ the new by starting the necessary activities but any obstacle may move you back to Assessment.
  • Acceptance – Accept the new is now ‘it’ though they may not like it. Willing to put in the energy and effort to move forward.
  • Action – Full acceptance and action without reservation; may even help others through the change.

Now what can you do for yourself? 

  1. Identify where you are in the process for a specific change.
  2. Determine what you need to know to help you move to the next stage for this change. Is it information? Support in a specific way? Confirmation that someone is reviewing the risks? Ability to feel safe?
  3. Ask for what you need. Ask the questions, involve the people who should be involved, stay away from the water cooler talk and blaming.
  4. Try on the change. Open your thoughts of possibility or understanding. Moving forward is moving through.
  5. Understand that moving through a change is a predictable process. Though the time spent in and depth of each stage is unique to situations and people—with different time and energy spent in stages—there is a process. Most of us can’t acknowledge a change and jump to action without a stop in the other stages along the way.

The more we understand how someone moves through a change, the quicker and more valuable we are as we help them work through the stages. We become invaluable as we help them through any change and cleanly secure the coveted decision to buy, agreement on what comes next, or a commitment to take an action.

Your Turn! What are some of the ways you have found to effectively move through a change for yourself or others? What gets you stuck? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of the Conversations That Sell book.