When innovation shifts the mindset of an industry, those companies designed to construct and distribute the older model are typically averse to adopting the new shift. This aversion allows new players into the industry often times leaving the industry leader under the old mindset, lost, scrambling, or simply, trying to figure out what happened!
As Wikipedia brought Encyclopedia Britannica to its knees, as the iPod makes portable CD players second class citizens, so goes the road construction lighting industry.
The Powermoon Helimax completely shifts the thinking on lighting for the construction industry. Its design is unique, memorable and outperforms typical light tower flood lighting in many ways. The Powermoon is a helium-filled translucent balloon containing four lamps with four mirrors giving off 360° illumination without glare and provides 5 times as much light for the same power consumption. It’s lightweight and portable (can fit in the back of a car), can be quickly inflated and can be used up to 150 feet off the ground. It is a German innovation that has yet to reach the US market in critical mass. Why would something with such performance improvements not be completely taking over the industry here?
Do you see the light?
Many people reading this article will say I’ve never seen this in the United States, I like my normal light stands or this is some fad that will never catch on. The resistance to change is normal as the majority of people shy away from the unique, the different and the unknown — until it becomes common place. Sometimes, that can be too late.
As Everett Rogers outlined with his bell curve of innovation adoption there are five categories of adoption. As a business leader you set the tone of where you want your company to be in the innovation curve. If you are a traditionalist and resist the new ideas your staff will mirror that approach or become frustrated with such resistance to change and may move on. If you are at the front end of innovation adoption, you set the tone, you are a cutting edge organization and will attract employees who desire to work under those conditions and thereby will work best with customers who want to own the latest and greatest.
Resistance to change is within all of us to some degree. It can come from your sales staff who resist selling non-traditional services or products to your customers who see you as the supplier of these few products and ONLY these few products. Understanding where your customers fit into the innovation adoption curve will help you understand how to approach them in your sales efforts. Finding where your sales staff fits into this information will help you have greater understanding of why they like selling (or resist selling) certain products and services.
2.5% of people fall into this category. They typically are venturesome, educated, enjoy being cutting edge, have a greater propensity to take risk. Innovators are constantly willing to invest the time and energy to learn to adapt to the new demands of the innovation.
Innovators ask questions such as: How can I use this new technology to gain a competitive advantage? How can I be the first person to make an impact with this new product idea? What changes do I need to make in my organization to bring this new idea to my customers as fast as possible?
Innovators tend to be boundless in their ideas and energy for trying new things. They typically feel not constraint from budgets, time, or current direction.
The innovators see this new idea in lighting and immediately jump to new possibilities in addition to the intended use. In fact, the Powermoon is now being used for search and rescue, event illumination and as an alternative advertising vehicle.
2. Early Adopters
13.5% of people fall into this category and they are typically opinion leaders, educated and popular. The early adopters are essential for new ideas to become profitable ideas, because these are the people who enjoy telling others about what they have discovered. They are always willing to try out new ideas, but a bit more carefully than the innovators.
Early Adopter business leaders keep a close eye on industry changes and are looking for ideas they can use to strengthen their businesses or product lines. Leaders in this category ask their sales team to do some exploration with customers to see how receptive they are to the new ideas being contemplated. Where the Innovator takes on the new ideas and then tries to get customers to use them, the early adopter will get the input from the customer first and then make the effort to use the innovation.
3. Early Majority
34% of the population fits this category as they are more deliberate and usually rely on social comment and information from friends than in discovery on their own. Early Majority people are of the “wait and see” variety. Leaders want to see how the competition is using the changes and what the impact is. If it’s positive, then this group will start to explore using the innovations.
An organization lead by a person of this category will seldom get the best positioning for getting new products to customers, but they also see this as a less risky option and will not potentially have significant losses on innovation since it is now being generally accepted.
4. Late Majority
34% of the population are in this category and are typically skeptical, traditional and enjoy the stability of their situation (sometimes right or wrong.) The Late Majority are the last ones on the bus. By the time this group is ready to accept the innovation, it has become widely used and pretty much the new norm. They have lost all competitive advantage and in their opinion, hopefully lost all chance of risk by now getting into the game. Frequently, innovation has become a commodity by the time this group gets involved.
16% of the population. Traditional people caring for the “old ways” are critical toward new ideas and will only accept innovation once it has become mainstream. Laggards are not interested in change and will accept the innovations only when they become the only option. They are more focused on the fear of what might happen be accepting the change than in the potential benefits.
Organizations with a Laggard in a leadership role will be struggling to remain competitive and customer orders will be in decline. In some cases, the leader may just want to ride out what he has until he can retire. The workforce under a leader of this category will be older and of like mind.
Let’s say you love these new innovations you are finding and see great opportunity if only your customers were as into innovation as you are. How can you spread these innovational ideas and products to your customers?
The more information you can use to encourage learning about the existence and function of the innovation the better informed your customers will be. Resistance is most often the fear of the unknown. The better you can develop a knowledge base for your customers the more understand they have of the product and the benefits the will enjoy. Sales today is as much about good information as closing techniques (or more so.) The better informed your sales staff is about products and serves the easier they will be able top over come the initial rejection of something new.
Once upon a time sales were all about slick persuasive tactics that gave the profession a bad rap. The fact is persuasion is still one of the most effective selling tools but through a different approach. Becoming convinced of the value of the innovation is key for the customer to accept that this proposed change is advantageous. Understanding the customer’s resistance to innovation is critical. If the customer is a Laggard, no amount of persuasion will bring this customer home if the idea is still very new. By the same token, if you are dealing with am Early Adopter, good information and a clear understanding of benefits may well be enough to get the customer on board.
Sometimes nothing sells like a free trial. Innovations often need to be seen or felt before the idea becomes real to the customer. For example, you can have all the specs on why the Powermoon is a better option, why it can be cheaper to operate, why it makes perfect sense, but because the concept may be considered so radical, it has to be experienced to be real.
Innovation is the key to growth in any industry. Be sure you are leading the charge for your organization to be on the cutting edge, teaching your sales staff to be knowledgeable of all new products and educate your customers on what really is a significant change in innovation, not just what is the new model. When you help your customers save money, have better performance, and show then a better way, they will think you hung the moon.