Featured Post

Last week, we talked about how "delighters", those little extra touches, can make all the difference in sales. There’s just a few things you’ll want to remember.
1. Consider your market Just what constitutes a delighter can get a little counterintuitive. Sometimes a cheap establishment offers perks that you’d never expect to find at a ritzier place. Consider the free continental breakfasts served at most budget hotels. An extremely upscale hotel is much more likely to direct you to a (pricy) in-house restaurant. Complementary breakfast is not the norm at a deluxe resort, and so we don’t even consider it as a possibility. Delighters are all about exceeding expectations, and our expectations are not an exact science. Be sure you are offering delighters in keeping with your price point and image.
2. Consider your audience. When you check in at a Hilton hotel, the clerk behind the desk offers you a large free cookie, warmed by a microwave. For guests on holiday, this may seem like a …

Hustling the Brain, or Why We're Suckers for Delighters

Today’s consumers are savvier than ever. In this age of constant media bombardment, it may feel harder and harder to stand out from the noise enough to actually reach people. However, there is one foolproof way to get noticed. According to a 2012 Nielson study, 92 percent of respondents say they trust earned media, “such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family,” more than any form of advertising. If you can get your customers talking about you, more customers will follow. So how can you turn your customer experience into a share-worthy story? One useful tool is the Kano Model, created by Professor Noriaki Kano in 1984. While studying customer satisfaction and loyalty, Kano found that creating an above-average experience required fulfilling three categories: must-bes, one-dimensional needs, and “attractors” or “delighters". Essentially, it’s a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for sales. Must-bes are the things your product or service must provide, or else the custome…

What Copernicus Can Tell Us About Your Company's Staying Power

In 1543, Polish astronomer and mathematician Copernicus published a then-radical theory, carefully timed just before his death: the Renaissance-era scientist had come to the conclusion that the Earth rotated around the sun. At the time, the implication that the Earth did not sit at the center of the universe was a deeply disturbing one. However, later on, this belief would prove extremely useful—for instance, when we began developing space-worthy crafts with which to explore the heavens. Over four centuries later, a tourist touched a wall and wondered how long it would stand. The man in question was astrophysics professor J. Richard Gott, the wall was the Berlin Wall, and the professor was about to have a revelation, thanks in part to Copernicus. Gott’s reasoning was this: in the same way that we are not the epicenter of the solar system, this moment and his presence were in no way integral to the history of the wall. This meant there was an equal chance he was standing there at the fir…

The Prisoner Dilemma: Problems with the Stanford Prison Experiment

If you’ve taken a psych class in the past four decades, you’ve probably encountered some version of the following story:

In 1971, psychologist Philip Zimbardo recruited 21 male Stanford students of perfectly sound mind and body to portray either prisoners or guards—decided on a coin flip—for a two-week scientific study into prison psychology. Although the “guards” were instructed not to become physical with the “prisoners,” the guards quickly turned sadistic and the prisoners were so psychologically shattered that the experiment was cut short after just six days. The moral of the story is that even the healthiest among us have a tyrannical authoritarian lurking inside, ready to be unleashed the moment we are handed our own uniform and pair of reflective sunglasses. There’s just a few problems with this. Well, scratch that, there’s more than a few. Despite the prevalence of the Stanford Prisoner Experiment tale, it has a number of glaring flaws that disqualify it from saying much of anyth…

Kentucky Fried Coincidence

As Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman says, frequently we underestimate the role of luck in our successes.

To illustrate this, consider the case of a Corbin, Kentucky gas station owner named Harlan Sanders. One day, while working in his station on U.S. Highway 25, he happened to hear a customer complain, “Damn! There ain’t a decent place around here to eat!” Sanders, who had bounced from job to job for years, would later remember, “I got to thinking. One thing I could always do was cook.” Smithsonian magazine reports what happened next. Sanders remodeled the store room of his station into a restaurant, where weary travelers could order country ham, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and fried chicken. By 1953, business was going so well that the cafĂ© had been expanded to accommodate 142 eaters, and Sanders was offered $164,000 for his Corbin business—which he promptly refused. (about 1.5 million in today's money)That same year, Sanders met entrepreneur Pete Harman at a …

A Tall Glass of Humility

We all know the story of the New Coke debacle—or at least, we think we do. It’s one of the most notorious corporate blunders of the last century. ‘What group of geniuses could look at a brand like Coca-Cola and decide to reconfigure the formula?’ we ask, rhetorically. ‘What were they thinking?’ After all, what’s the most beloved cola on the planet? If you’re like most people, your answer would probably be Coke. And you’d be right—and wrong. As a Pepsi TV campaign once famously showed us, a blindfolded person tends to prefer Pepsi. And yet, culturally, Coke is the icon and Pepsi is the runner-up, the also-ran.   “Culturally” is the key word here. Over a century of marketing momentum has enmeshed Coke in our brains, building strong unconscious associations with childhood, America, sports, nostalgia, and Christmas. Heck, the modern red-suited version of Santa Claus came from a Coca Cola ad. You’re not just drinking any old brown carbonated liquid, you’re drinking the distillation of a thous…

What's Your Sales Mindset?

When you look at the selling masters out there, the people who make sales look effortless, are you encouraged? (“Maybe with hard work, that could be me.”) Or does some part of you feel threatened? (“Terry’s a natural at sales; I’ll never be able to close a deal like that.”)

The answer is important, because it’s a key window into your selling mindset. Mindset is a term popularized by Stanford professor Carol Dweck. In studying human achievement, she repeatedly found that one of the best predictors of success boiled down to the way people saw the world. In a fixed mindset framework, positive traits—in our case, the ability to sell—are innate, or fixed. It holds that we are all born destined to reach a certain level and then stop. The goal is to hope you turn out to be a member of that race of magic people. If you approach sales with a fixed mindset, you are discouraged by setbacks—dry periods, difficult customers—because it makes you secretly doubt you’ve got that “special sauce.” Challe…