Change: Friend or Foe?

Change: Friend or Foe?

Change. It happens all around us every day, planned and unplanned.

As a sales technologist, I am always looking for the next new thing. Change is what drives my world. Over the last two months, there has been a burst of change in the world of Apple products, more than typical from what had been a predictable change cycle.

iPhone 5 Lightning connectorFirst, the new iPhone 5 with its new size, 4G wireless, faster processor and the new “Lightning” connector. It is this little connector that has caught my attention. I have read a large number of comments that are critical of Apple for making the change, requiring new cables, adapters, and accessories. There are numerous benefits that the new connector provides, yet many are complaining of the change.

Then the iPad Mini announcement, which had been widely anticipated for some time. It also has the new connector.

It was the surprise announcement during the iPad Mini announcement that kicked the complainers into high gear though – the new iPad 4!  The iPad 4 now features a faster processor and you guessed it, the “Lightning” connector. Pretty much everyone that has bought an iPad 3 (that is what I am still calling it) since it’s release seven months ago is complaining of the change.

I understand the frustration of those that bought an iPad 3. It is only seven months old. Apple has never released an updated product this close to a previous release before. Expectations were not met. That is a lesson for all of us to learn from, but the topic for another post.

As a student of change, I look at it from the other side of the table. As a sales person, I see opportunities.

The new connector replaces technology that goes all the way back to the original iPod and iPhone. The new capabilities are long overdue, and after having used the new connector on my new iPhone 5, wish it would have happened much sooner. It is an improvement in performance and convenience.

The facts are that the competitive pressure on Apple has never been greater. Samsung, Google, Amazon and others are hammering away with products of their own.They are also under the gun to deliver new innovations under the leadership of Tim Cook, with everyone wondering if Apple can continue to innovate without Steve Jobs. Would you really want to purchase an iPhone 3 today in this market? Of course not.

I am reminded of one of the best-selling books in my annual Top Sales Books to Read list from this past year by a friend of mine here in Seattle, Brett Clay titled “Selling Change: 101+ Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change“. In it, Brett explores change in detail and it’s significance in the sales profession. His Secret #2 is: People Only Buy When Forced. Steve Jobs himself is quoted as saying in BusinessWeek (25 May 1998),

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Are you celebrating change in your sales efforts? Is your company perceived as an agent of change, an innovator?

I encourage you to embrace change. Not for change sake, but for the opportunities that come along for the ride. Change is a significant emotional trigger that each of us can learn to embrace rather than resist. You will come out ahead by embracing the changes as they come. Change is going to happen with you or without you. Learn to leverage change to meet the needs of those you serve. You and they will both come out ahead by doing so. You do not want to be the sales person or company that is attempting to convince a prospective customer that your outdated version of the  iPhone 3 is a better investment than the fresh, new iPhone 5 that your competitor is selling. At least I don’t want to be in that position. What about you?

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