Small Changes That Spark ‘Better’

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In The Small Big!, Seve Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini offer recipes for making small changes that make ‘better’ happen. Their findings have implications both for how to get buyers to ‘better’ their situations [by buying into a change initiative] AND get sellers to ‘better’ their practices [by executing with more impact]. In both cases, small changes motivate change, make it safe, and inspire required actions.

MOTIVATING CHANGE
Trying to drive change by informing people doesn’t work. Info doesn’t lead people to make decisions; context does. There’s also safety in conformity [people will follow what others do]. Best way to counter this instinct to ‘herd’? Discourage unhealthy behaviors by pairing them with an undesirable identity. Good example of this: Samsung’s ad showing only reason a person with a Samsung phone is in line at the Apple store is to save a place for some others – who turn out to be middle-aged parents.

The implications for getting buyers to buy: sellers need to uncover buyers’ motives’ and their urgency for ‘better’; then show what others in their shoes are doing with success; and contrast that with the undesirable attributes of folks who lack the savvy to make similar moves.



The implications for sales execution: sellers need to see the ‘big picture’ of how effectively they’re executing. A picture that discourages unhealthy execution practices by showing the impacts on downstream results.

MAKING IT SAFE
Where the change intended is hard, or motivations for change may be low, make the execution roll-out structured, straight forward, and uncomplicated. As choices increase in complexity, attention is increasingly focused on first piece of info presented. Ensure that costs aren’t opportunities lost. Instead of framing opportunity costs as attractive and important, frame them as unattractive and unimportant. Example: De Beers’ diamond ad. Picture of a set of diamond earrings. Tagline: re-do the kitchen next year.

The implications for getting buyers to buy: buyers need to know what’s involved in getting started. The simpler it seems, and the more valuable it’s calculated to be, the higher the odds they’ll proceed.

The implications for sales execution: sellers need to ‘frame’ buyers’ choices in ways that genuinely reflect buyers’ priorities and reservations. The simpler the path forward, and the more it reflects buyer calculations of value and risk, the higher the odds of success. Buyers rarely argue against their own conclusions.

INSPIRING ACTION
Behaviors change when change is easy for people and fronted by small commitments. In addition, there’s the principle of reciprocity: give something of value before you get a change, with value. Key in this is to ‘give’ in ways that are unexpected. Exceptional. Such giving creates exceptional results.



Don’t demo how change will happen and don’t oversell its value. Let folks test drive what it will be like, with you as their driver trainer. Those who are able to touch what’s proposed have a much higher positive emotional reaction and a greater sense of ownership over what’s being proposed. Limit your persuasive claims to just three points. After that, all your further claims do is increase skepticism. Get people to make commitments. To you and themselves. People are more likely to follow-thru on their initial commitments when they form, for themselves, a specific plan of when and how they’ll go about accomplishing the change they’ve committed to.

The implications for getting more buyers to buy AND getting sellers to execute effectively: invite small decisions, not giant leaps. Make the path forward a mutual commitment to do what’s required to make ‘better’ happen. Let folks experience what life will be like as they move forward. With no surprises. At least, no negative ones.

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