Accepting change: How can you help?

New technology is full of emotional change. Everyone finds their own pace when it comes to accepting the changes that come when adopting new technology. With brand new technology, the differences in adoption rates widen even more. Some folks won’t touch new technology. Other people prefer to wait a little while and let someone else take the punches that “first implementers” must often withstand. There are those who consider how the new tech can help them, and if it can, they’ll dive in wholeheartedly. Finally, some chase the Bright Shiny Object (BSO) – no, not the eclipse. The BSO distracts them just like a randomly reflected spear of piercing sunlight off a car windshield grabs your attention while driving.

This isn’t limited to technology

Segmenting the speed of accepting change isn’t new. A series of books by Geoffrey Moore, starting with “Crossing the Chasm“, examined this in detail. However, the phenomena isn’t limited to technology. Anything in our lives that introduces change tends to fit into these segments of how much (and how early) we’re willing to dive in. We’re creatures of habit, even in how we change. Our hesitancy or comfort to try new things impacts every purchase – including the uptake of anything new or different. Some of us love change. Some hate it. Most are somewhere in the middle. Many occupying the “fat part of the (Bell) curve” need a reason to change. Maybe not a big reason, but a reason all the same.

Ever tried to get a young child to try a new food? If so, you probably didn’t give them an adult-sized serving the first time you had them try it. As with the kid and that broccoli they (at first?) loved to hate, it’s often best to ease people into a new thing. Sometimes, you have to offer them something they crave (like ice cream for dessert) if they’re brave enough to choke down their broccoli.

It’s no different with adults. Try to convince a pickup driver to change from Ford to Chevy or Dodge. Ask a golfer to change clubs. Ask a frequent flier to change airlines. In each case, you’ll probably face substantial resistance.

How is that different from you wanting them to switch to your restaurant, hardware store, dinner menu, or IT company from the one they’re comfortable with?

IT ISN’T.

Risk reversal reduces friction

If you need someone to make a change in order for your venture (or career) to succeed – you need to figure out where the friction comes from. Whether you’re trying to work with the pickup driver, golfer, or frequent flier, what creates the resistance that keeps them from considering a change? Risk is a common source.

When we wanted people to change to our software years ago, almost everyone had a 30 day money-back guarantee. A few had a 60 day one. We changed ours from 30 to a full year. The difference in refunds is trivial between 30, 60 and 365 days. The perception of who takes the risk, however, changes completely.

I was on several car lots over the weekend. Of maybe eight different dealers, I met one salesperson who was hustling. He clearly understood that the goal was to get a new customer, not simply to sell a car. Almost anyone can sell a car (or whatever you and I sell), a real salesperson is looking to create customers for life.

Anyhow, this guy offered to send a car home with me for a few days to make sure it fits. Sure, I know how this works. It’s like a test drive on steroids. If they get you to test drive it, they know how much more likely it is that you’ll buy (trust me, there’s lots of data). “Take the car for a few days and see how it fits” is the next step up from a test drive. Even so, it’s a proven risk reversal strategy. We know we’re likely to miss something on a test drive. When our neighbors see the car, when we see that it fits in the garage, & when the rest of the family reacts – it’ll be tougher to return it.

Your challenge: Determine what’s necessary to reduce resistance to the point that your prospects will consider making a change. What risk(s) must you take off the table? “Change” in this case means make a sale and get a new client.

Photo credit: Frank Winkler

On Change and Becoming a Leader

calculator
Creative Commons License photo credit: ansik

Not often do I post two guest posts in the same day, but this one can’t wait.

The education-related portion of Steps Toward Becoming a Technology Leader: Advice to School Administrators is what originally caught my eye, but the root of the discussion has applications in every business, if not every life.

Good stuff from J. Robinson, the 21st Century Principal.

Do you need a Groundhog Day?

Today’s guest post from Paul Hannam does a nice job of using the movie Groundhog Day to illustrate a point about personal change.

Changing from your worst day to your best day (his example), changing your business, even changing you.

It’s a good read.

Check it out it here.

Paying attention to changes

At first glance, you might think this is a video about climate change.

Maybe it is, but there’s a story about a young, focused entrepreneur here. It’s also a story about making choices when change happens.

Do you choose to sit and watch, or do you decide to adapt and flourish?

In this video, a story is told about a boy who noticed a change in the success of the crops he raised.

Rather than sit and watch, he made changes his family’s business to take advantage of what he saw.

The result? He ignited a new, local industry that saved his family’s economy and perhaps his village’s…simply because he was unwilling to give up, even after getting negative feedback from influential people in his life.

How are you watching for, detecting and adapting to change in your market? Your community?

Is your business stuck in the Dark Ages?

There’s just nothing better than making some grumpy old business obsolete.

This week’s grumpy old business is the Associated Press (AP).

Why? Because they have decided to start charging $2.50 per word when you excerpt their story (even though such excerpts are permitted under Fair Use as long as the excerpt is of reasonable length).

Now, to be sure, if you use the entire story, you should pay for it. You’re being lazy, or you simply like their piece enough that you should license it.

On the other hand, we’re talking about brief excerpts of stories where the original is not only cited, but the reader is invited to go see it in its original location.

Yes, that’s right. They want to charge bloggers for sending viewers to their websites. Anyone with half a brain who is excerpting an article and commenting on it is going to link to the story as a form of proof, not to mention as a courtesy to the reader.

Big, old, crusty media simply doesn’t get it. They are so scared that we don’t need them anymore, when the truth is that the things they do make many people not WANT them anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I watched the national news at 5pm or 6pm or whatever.

Is your business stuck in that old world?

Has your business model changed in the last 5 years?

Has your business model been put out to pasture in the last 5 years?

Some examples to get your attention:

  • 5 years ago, iTunes was a joke in a RIAA board room, much less at Best Buy, Amazon and Wal-Mart. Today, it sells more retail music (In any format, on any medium) than any store of any kind.
  • 5 years ago, Skype was a joke in an AT&T board room. Today, it’s not unusual to see 11 to 12 million people using it simultaneously. It was valuable enough that eBay bought it for $2.6 Billion. Let me remind you that people who have a $3 billion in spare cash are not the types to just waste it on fast women, fast horses and fast cars.
  • 5 years ago, Lifehacker.com didn’t exist. In fact, it wouldn’t exist for 2 more years. Now, it’s in the top 10 most viewed sites on the Internet. In only 3 years.
  • 5 years ago, Amazon.com was about to report their second-ever profitable quarter, about $9MM, after 9 years in business. Last quarter (1Q2008), they made $143MM in profit.
  • 5 years ago, Wimbledon was something you watched pre-recorded and delayed. Usually you see pieces of all but one or two matches, and someone else chose those matches. Today, you can watch EVERY match on streaming video for $25.

So, with those things under your belt…

  • 5 years ago, did you get new clients the same way you do now?
  • 5 years ago, did you communicate with clients the same way you do now?
  • 5 years ago, what else was the same in your business as it is now?

You decide, item by item, if that’s a good thing. And then do something about it. Some things probably don’t need to change. But everything is worth a look.

If five business-savvy 27 year olds bought your business, what would they rip out and replace? Besides the coffee machine, that is.