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Using Inoculation Theory and Ego to explain resistance to real-time sales coaching

Using Inoculation Theory and Ego to explain resistance to Real-Time Sales Coaching

Inoculation theory1 is a social psychological / communication theory that explains how an attitude or belief can be protected against persuasion or influence. What does inoculation theory and sales coaching have in common? Let’s explore.

This is specifically a story about Abstrakt and how we’ve seen resistance when it comes to new opportunities. Other companies may experience a different resistance, but we thought we’d share our experience in hopes you may learn something.

Here we go…

Bringing Abstrakt to market has been interesting.

When it comes to real-time sales coaching and looking at our close/lost opportunities, the single most common reason for us not winning deals is deal: Status Quo/No Change.

In some ways, we are creating a new category, while trying to educate the market on not only a new solution but also exposing them to a pain that up until now had previously gone undefined (even unrealized)

Only by breaking current technologies down into two categories, sales enablement and conversational intelligence, have we been able to turn the proverbial lightbulb on when folks realize both toolsets do nothing to help anyone, live in the moment.

 

Old school sales coaching

Sales coaching, up until now, has focused on memorizing and coaching before, or analyzing and reporting after.

In 1961, Psychologist William J. McGuire developed the Inoculation Theory (see I told you we’d tie it back in) as a method of explaining why and how attitudes and beliefs change, but more specifically how or why humans resist change in the face of multiple, often logical, attempts at exposing inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and even fallacies within their current belief system.

The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t is often the unspoken belief system when considering change.

Now your ego’s job is to protect you. It’s the defense system, protecting your self esteem, self worth and personal security against the world.

 

Let’s Put This Together

As a manager or coach, if a large part of my job is to coach my reps or agents, am I essentially agreeing to purchase a software that replaces up to fifty percent of my responsibility?

Or maybe worse yet, does real-time sales coaching software prove I have been ineffective at my job the past few years?

Does real-time sales coaching put my ability to pay my mortgage at risk?

When one considers the applicability of the Inoculation Theory as it pertains to the ego’s job at protecting one’s self worth, the resistance to change is obvious. And even further so, it explains why there is a resistance to real-time sales coaching.

I read a quote on Linkedin the other day, it read: “If your job has a job description, technology will replace you someday. Find a way to bring strategy and tactics, not just execution.”

Role playing, call coaching, and call reviews can be found in nearly every single job description for a sales coach or manager on Linkedin today. Leaders and coaches can either choose to continue to resist change, or step up and become early adopters of technology, learning how to apply it to advance not only their teams, but their careers.

We don’t have the content, let’s use flash cards, reps won’t like it, we can’t enforce usage… each of these are micro counter arguments against change. These enable one to face the logical, stronger counter attacks from the other individual trying to educate around change.

The idea being, the larger quantity of micro-defenses I have in my toolkit to deploy against, the larger (often correct) accurate position or point of view, the greater my chances of success.

Quantity defeats quality.

 

Resistance to new technology

As a leader, it is easier to say “I am doing my job” when pointing to how many call review sessions have been put on the calendar. It is easier to point to rep’s not doing their job, than to admit the current status quo of listening to call recordings is no longer effective in the face of new technology that has been introduced.

The key word here is “easier” – protector over the ego, and homeostasis.

It is much harder to take extreme ownership and deliver the strategy of playbook points, and objection handling techniques; those are subjective and hard to defend when not effective.

What argument could they make if their team was still not effective after deploying real-time sales coaching?

The only argument left is that the strategy and tactics are ineffective.

Their talk tracks are ineffective, that hurts and showcases lack of value. It really is fascinating that resistance to change at a personal level supersedes organizational growth and potential when determining the adoption of new strategies, tactics and technologies like real-time sales coaching.

Say goodbye to call reviews and role playing. That’s old school… It’s time to upgrade.

Sources:  

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inoculation_theory

Author

Greg Reffner - CEO

As one of the very first power users of Conversational Intelligence as an Account Executive, Greg fell in love with how technology enabled his success. As Abstrakt's leader, his vision and "why" is to help every sales rep and leader avoid the pain of missing their number.