91st Edition – November 1, 2020
The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.Arthur Miller – Death of a Salesman
1. A Gold Star, a Pat on the Back, or a Big Bonus
What is possibly the most controversial topic in any business context? If it’s not incentive systems, it’s got to be near the top.
If you work in the public school system, perhaps you’ve heard of Alfie Kohn. I had not until I found a title in my Kindle library this week entitled Punished by Rewards by this psychologist who has made a guest appearance on Oprah’s show in 2013.
According to Kohn, incentives of any kind only lead to temporary compliance. Kohn states he cannot find any proof of a reward system leading to better quality and results in the workplace. Is he right or wrong?
Instead of skimming or reading the book, here’s one of many samples of his writing at HBR.
2. Intrinsic Motivation Revisited
Kohn’s black-and-white message reminded me of a kinder and gentler messenger speaking a bit softer and in a more compelling manner. I’m a huge fan of Dan Pick who says the big 3 of intrinsic motivators are autonomy, mastery, and purpose (the bigger and broader message is found in his book, Drive).
Perhaps the answer is focusing on intrinsic motivators while deemphasizing extrinsic rewards without eliminating them. Even if you don’t agree with the full message of Alfie Kohn (I’m not his disciple), we can find many cases of unintended consequences brought on by certain extrinsic rewards.
3. The Dean of Persuasion
Speaking of Dan Pink, he just launched a course on MasterClass. The course is on sales and persuasion. No, you don’t need to be a sales rep to take this course. Dan tells us in the first lesson that we’re selling 24 minutes out of every hour at work.
I could easily listen to this guy all day – check out his trailer to the Master Class below:
4. A Highly-Cited Economics Paper Over the Past 50 Years
An economics professor, George Akerlof, brought us the concept of information asymmetry where one party knows far more than the other – think of the used car salesman dressed in a polyester leisure suit selling a lemon to a first-time buyer.
The good news is that within the past few years, we’ve flipped from a business environment of asymmetrical information to information parity where the seller is now on notice, not caveat emptor where the buyer has to beware of being hoodwinked.
Granted, due diligence still is hard whether you are buying a company, a new ERP solution, a 6-figure consulting package, or used equipment.
To learn more, either turn to Pink’s, To Sell is Human or his first lesson of his Master Class.
5. The Other Dean of Persuasion
I’m getting close to launching my first master class for specialty consultants. In one of our sessions on sales, we hit these key terms:
- commitment and consistency
- social proof
Robert Cialdini calls the six universal principles above the most influential in the persuasion of others. Cialdini’s book is Influence, and it’s one of the most important books of understanding the minds of others that I’ve ever read. And no, it’s not a book about manipulation although we both know marketers who use this as their bible for getting us to buy their products.
This Week’s Podcast
Here’s who else who should do a Master Class – Brett Fox, an expert in startups. HIs new book released in September is Learn How to Take a Punch. This is now the go-to book I’m recommending to any start-up CEO. Brett was our guest on this week’s podcast.
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Always be learning.
Title Photo by Alan Levine.