Freakonomics Provides Huge Lesson for Sales Managers

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Mar 26

At first glance, Freakonomics: A Rouge Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, seems like a strange book for sales managers. It was a book with no unifying theme. It was more like a collection of essays. However, these stories did indeed have a theme: motivation.

Finding the Underlying Motivation Can Be Challenging

The key point is that motivation is a complex issue. Sometimes money provides the motivation to take great risks, like street corner drug dealers or, in the case of real estate agents, to not risk losing a sure sale for the potential of getting a better offer for their clients later. Sumo wrestlers demonstrated that sometimes maintaining their close knit relationships outweighs the potential dishonor if you are caught throwing a fight.

Hard Sell Sales Organizations Rely Heavily on Money, Recognition, and Material Rewards

The same is true in sales management. The predominant motivator in hard sell organizations is money, lots of money. They also use recognition and other material rewards, like rings, watches, cars, and trips to exotic places.

True Soft Sell Marketers Won’t Push Their Customers Just for a Material Incentive

So why don’t these marvelous rewards always work? People are complex and complicated. We each have a self-image, which does not always mesh with doing whatever it takes to win big for us at the expense of our customer. Money alone does not make those of us who are soft sell marketers at heart sell out our values of caring about our customers. Serving them comes first, money second.

Our Personal Priorities Can Defeat Your Contest

We also have different goals. If someone’s primary value lies in being a parent, attending the son’s soccer game or the daughter’s solo performance might outweigh making the one extra sales call needed to win the cruise.

To Maximize Your Sales Plan, Develop Rewards Using a Variety of Motivators

I think that Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in their book, Freakonomics, gave sales managers and small business owners the opportunity to understand motivation more deeply. By appreciating the complexity of what inspires people, you can develop incentives and compensation aimed at rewards which appeal to different salespeople. You can also avoid ones that unintentionally drive activities which hurt the company, like selling below your true costs. Sales can be fun and mutually rewarding for the customer, the sales rep, and the company — just be careful how you motivate your sales team.


About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.