07 Oct Making Changes in Your Business – The Five Stages of Change
To move your business to the next level, often the one exercise which brings big results is titled stop/start. In this exercise you list the things you need to start doing to move your business to the next level, and then those things which you must stop doing. Then you “just do it” to quote Nike.
Regardless if you are starting something new or stopping to do something which is holding your business back, the “just do it” involves making a change. Making changes, and going outside your comfort zone, will often make you uncomfortable. That is most likely why you have not done so in the past.
If you understand the steps involving and adequately implement each, you increase your chances of successfully making the change you want or need to make for your business. The following are the stages in making a change in your business, in yourself, and/or your life. We will use an example where you need to stop doing something. Let’s say that you need to stop missing to follow-up with some prospects.
Stage 1 is Pre-contemplation. At this point you are not actually considering making any change. You clarify for yourself what it is that you might like to change in the future, perhaps as a result of realizing you have missed opportunities in the past because you have not adequately followed-up with prospects in some cases. Perhaps you had so much business that you did not feel the impact of the loss in sales here, so you are not considering making a change as yet. You identify what action you specifically do instead of following up, when you do it, and why you believe you do it. Identifying the issue is the key to success in this stage.
Stage 2 is Contemplation. At this stage you are considering a change. In this stage you may list the positives (benefits) and negatives (costs and risks) of making such a change. Specifically, you may have to add additional steps to your follow-up process. This will take more time and effort, but may produce more sales. The clearer you are in the impact this added time and effort will have, the more likely you are to follow through and make the change. Also, be very clear in what has been stopping you from taking the action needed to achieve your goal- make more follow-up contacts.
Stage 3 is Preparation for Action. This is where you determine the specific steps you need to make the change, determine resources needed, set a date to implement the change and a date by which your specific goal will be achieved, and metrics to measure effectiveness and results. In this case, you most likely will be implementing a change to your sales follow-up process. You may utilize a CRM to help you do so, or some type of system to check on how long from last contact to next contact with each prospect. You may set standards or targets, such as follow-up at least weekly, unless the prospect has asked for more time between contacts. Also, being able to visualize your achieving your goal both increases your probability of success and shortens the time for you to reach your goal, once you start taking action. The key here is both your planning and your true commitment to the change.
Stage 4 is Action. As the name implies, this is the stage where you take action, i.e. “just do it”. The date you set for the change to take effect has arrived, you have implemented the change, and you are actively involved in making the change.
Stage 5 is Maintenance. Once you get started, there may be challenges or some fine-tuning in the changes you are making, but the key is your being flexible and doing what you need to do to make the change stick. While a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, you need to keep walking to go the thousand miles. Here you are using the new processes, are following-up with all prospects within the time standards you set, and your sales are increasing. Sales are up and you are feeling good about your sales process, and that you are actually a better salesperson than you previously believed. The key is continuing until your reach your goal.
By keeping each stage of the process, and keys to each stage in mind, you can make the change(s) you need to bring your business to the next level. Now that you know the process and stages, all you have to do is get started and make those changes needed in your business.
Enjoy your success and the benefits of having achieved your goal. Feel great about the dramatic change you have made in your business results. Remember, you don’t have to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.