Die, Rather Than Change (Issue 888)

In which we are encouraged to stop “missionary” selling and let go of the prospects who really won’t change.

I go to sleep at night with a goose down pillow over my face. Yes, you read that correctly: I go to sleep with a pillow on my face.

Why is that, you might wonder? After my wife and I married, I discovered that she liked to go to sleep with the bedroom lights on. Somehow this had not been apparent prior to the wedding.  Since I prefer to drift off to sleep on my back, in the dark, I blocked out the light by putting a pillow over the top of my face so that it covered my eyes. This felt a little awkward at first but I became accustomed to it and I now find the feeling of the pillow comforting.   [OK, I admit it, this is a little bizarre and, yes, I suppose I could have used a sleeping mask or we could have used timers that would have turned the lights “on” after I fell asleep. These thoughts didn’t occur to me until sometime later.]

In recent years, my wife has cajoled me to change my sleeping position, arguing that I will sleep better and feel more rested if I sleep in a different position. To no avail, I like the feeling of my back stretching out when I lie down and I look forward to the pillow on my face every night. It’s become a comfortable and comforting habit.

My doctor has told me that many of his patients would rather die than change their health habits. For example, if you look, two years after people have coronary by-pass grafting surgery, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyles with the result that more than half of them have developed the same challenges they had before the surgery.

Reminds me of the joke about psychologists: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? The answer is: “Two, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.”

And so it is, ladies and gentlemen, as we look at our year and our clients and prospects. How many prospects does it take to make a year? And the answer is “A few, but they really have to want to change.”

Our roles as physicians or consultants or sales people is to help people to reach the point that “they really want to change” and make decisions that lead to better outcomes for themselves. However, when we run into prospects who would, seriously,  “…rather die in their current, comfortable habits than change…,” it may be time to find new prospects.

NEXT WEEK:   Strategies to change those who might be changed.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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