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In business, why are so many people afraid of change? Allow me if you will to paint a picture that far too many people are far too familiar with.

You call an exciting prospect, (or better yet, THEY CALL YOU.)

No matter how it happens, they tell you, “This is perfect timing”. We are very dissatisfied with your competitor, we would love to give you a chance. Now of course, we’re going to get another price, and we’ll let the company that we’re mad at bid as a formality, but we want to change.

You come back feeling like a million bucks! Why not, right? You go through your entire sales process, with some combination of surveys, scope of works, on-site inspections, whatever you need to do, they welcome you with open arms. Man, are you building rapport! You hand this future client a nice, thick piece of letterhead, with bright colors, and walk them through your proposal. You smile, they smile, you love your job at this moment. They say something vague like, “This looks good to me. Of course, I’ll compare this to our current company, but I don’t see any problems”.

You ain’t worried!  You’ve listened to 3-10 people tell you for weeks how & why they dislike the service/product they have now, and you addressed every issue! They don’t respond to service calls quick enough? We’ll guarantee half the time. They don’t tell you when they’re doing work, or what work they’ve done? We do that on every single job. They name it, you answer it. You put that baby at 75%+ on that terrible forecast; why not?

Then, you get this e-mail:

Thanks for your time. However, at this time, we have decided that staying with our current company is best.

Whaaattt? But no one in the whole organization likes that company. From what you’ve told me, they’re terrible! You said worse things about my enemy than I even dream of saying! What’s your first thought? It must be money, those cheap mumble mumble mumble. But when you dig into it, you find out that it wasn’t even the money.

People hate change. 

I’m not even talking about politics, religion, or the fact that you won’t even try sushi. (It’s so good.) I’m talking about in business (this is LinkedIn, after all.) People say all kinds of lame cliches talking about not rocking boats, they go way back, yada, yada, yada. Here’s my question:

Why are people so afraid of change?

I always think back to the show Weeds. Kevin Nealon plays a spaced-out pot-head who is campaigning for another term in political office. He’s done an absolutely horrendous job, there is no real reason he should even be considered for another term. His slogan?

“Elect Doug Wilson; Change brings problems!”

Brilliant. Man, that’s a solid play. That’s what seems to happen over & over again in all sectors of business, isn’t it?

Now I’ll say this: If you have a customer for a very long time, you should earn some benefit of the doubt. And if your company prides itself on company retention like GSC does, you should keep most of your tenured customers. One summer when I was following my Uncle around, I distinctly remember one cold-call scenario. We walk into a Church. He gives the person his pitch, and the person says, “We’ve used ABC Company for over 20 years, and love them”. His response? “Glad to hear that. We’re not here to disrupt any good relationships. I’d like to leave my information just in case anything changes, though”.

I didn’t know it at the time, but most companies don’t have the luxury of operating that way. So, I’m not talking about getting into a price war with every vendor, and changing every contract for a cheaper alternative. Gibbs has thrived for 45 years because of the value that longevity & stability bring to our partners.

But it’s been proven time & time again that it doesn’t do anyone good to stay married because of the kids. If you can complain time & time again about some vendor who you are paying a substantial amount of money to do a job, don’t get cold feet at the end. If they have been around for 20 years, and you’ve never had a problem, kudos to them! But don’t make your organization miserable because you don’t want to rock the boat.

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction. -Winston Churchill