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The Brain Science Behind Why Change is Hard for Your Team

Change is a constant in the world of B2B sales, yet it's often met with resistance and difficulty. Understanding the brain science behind why change is challenging for your sales team members can offer valuable insights into how we as leaders can help our direct reports navigate and adapt more effectively. In this blog post, we'll explore the brain-based factors that contribute to the resistance to change in sales and provide strategies for overcoming these obstacles.

First, the human brain is wired to seek safety and certainty. As such, change or anything not familiar triggers a threat response in the brain, activating regions such as the amygdala associated with fear and stress. This reaction is amplified in B2B corporate sellers who may perceive change as a risk to their performance, income, or status within the organization.

Additionally, the brain's preference for familiar patterns and habits reinforces resistance to change. Corporate sellers may find it challenging to break away from their established ways of doing things to embrace new approaches, even if they intellectually understand the benefits of change. So, how do we sales leaders help our team members lower their threat state when faced with impending changes?


  1. Clarify What You Are Going "From" and "To": Clearly defining the current state ("from") and the desired future state ("to") is essential for overcoming resistance to change. Salespeople need a clear understanding of why the existing methods or strategies are no longer optimal and what benefits and opportunities the proposed changes will bring to their own personal success. Providing this clarity helps align everyone's efforts toward a common goal and reduces ambiguity, making change more manageable and compelling. It also establishes a clear sense of collective purpose and direction, enhancing your team's readiness and receptiveness to new ideas and strategies.

  2. Create Compelling, Individualized "So What" Statements: By framing aspects of the change as an opportunity to actualize their individual aspirations, we can help our direct reports shift their mindset from fear to motivation.

  3. Provide Clear Goals and Aligned Resources: Ambiguity and uncertainty fuel resistance to change. Set clear, achievable goals and provide the necessary training, resources, and support to help your team members navigate the transition smoothly. This includes ongoing coaching, feedback, and recognition of progress.

  4. Foster Growth Mindset: Encourage a culture where experimentation, learning, and innovation are celebrated. Emphasize the value of adaptability and grit in the face of evolving market dynamics and customer needs. Highlighting the "before" and "after" of those who successfully adapted can inspire others to embrace change.

  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and celebrate progress and achievements along the change journey, no matter how small they might seem to you. This reinforces positive behaviors and motivates your team to stay engaged and committed to the new initiatives.


If you would like to start embedding these practices into your meetings and 1:1s more consistently, schedule your BrainSells advisory call to discuss ideas.


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