Newsroom HomeBlogsStoriesSoundtrack ProjectNewsroom ArchivesChamber Home Page

A Rut and A Grave: Don’t let complacency kill your business

Image courtesy of Ambro /
Image courtesy of Ambro /
While the actual activities take on different forms, at the end of the day, I’ve come to the realization that I’m a change agent for companies dissatisfied with their current sales and marketing outcomes. I was taken aback recently by the clarity offered from an area CEO in this statement: “We can’t expect a different outcome if we aren’t willing to change what we’re doing.”

We can surely all agree that his statement holds true. Why, then, do so many businesses struggle in executing change? Most business owners and managers will say they embrace change, but do their actions align with the words?

There has been much study over the years about the psychology of change, our natural resistance to it and how to navigate through it. Being able to embrace change, when it is foreign to you, is like breaking a bad addiction – an addition to routine and complacency.

Dr. Dawn Obrecht, an addiction specialist, describes three ingredients needed to bring about real change – honesty, openness and willingness. How open are you to hearing about the need for change? How honest are you being with yourself and others about your desire and willingness to change?

A wonderfully candid business owner recently shared with me his feelings about change, explaining, “I’m perfectly comfortable with my current behaviors but not the results. And while I’d rather not change, I’m willing to.”

Willingness to change is best measured by action. If you’re willing to stop talking about change and actually take action, regardless of your comfort level in doing so, that’s half the battle. The key to willingness, though, isn’t just to take a single action. It’s about continuing to take action.

Assuming you’re not pleased with your current sales and marketing outcomes, how do you assess what components of your strategy need to change?
  • Talk with your customers and prospects.
    Ask what they see as your differentiators, how they prefer to be communicated with, what would make them more likely to buy, and what your competitors are doing to effectively sell and market. They want to share and enjoy being asked, but they’re more likely to be candid if a third party asks.
  • Assess what your competition is doing.
    Shop them just like a customer would. How do your sales and marketing efforts stack up?
  • Shadow your sales team.
    Spend time shadowing each sales rep as they interact with prospects and customers. Identify missed sales opportunities and sales skill gaps.
  • Assess the effectiveness of your past sales and marketing strategies.
    If your efforts can’t be measured, work to find strategies that can be.
If you know that you’re too close to the situation and too uncomfortable to drive real change, find someone more objective who can. It’s the best gift you can give your company.

Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist Ellen Glasgow summed it up well when she said, “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” Don’t let complacency kill your business. Be an agent of change.

-- Lori Turner-Wilson
Posted: 2/19/2013 9:45:58 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: addiction, advance, agent, blog, business, chamber, change, development, economic, growth, ideas, memphis, small

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
Leave comment Subscribe

Is five < than five? (true/false)

Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.