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The Power of a Nudge

Have you ever wondered how many decisions a human makes in a day?

Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone. And as your level of responsibility increases, so does the multitude of choices you have to make. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day.

Decision-making often runs on Autopilot. Behavioral scientists have found that humans make 95% of their decisions using the lowest resistance path or instinctually when studying human behavior. Anytime you design a space where a human must choose, whether a product pricing page or an e-commerce product listing page, you create what behavioral scientists call the “choice architecture.” With the design of choice architecture, you will influence people’s decision-making, in one way or another.

Behavioral science studies human behavior, specifically how humans really make decisions in the real-world.

Behavioral science studies human behavior, specifically how humans really make decisions in the real-world.

Nudges are true and tried solutions of a choice architecture.


Associate nudge with behaviors

According to a survey conducted across thousands of business-to-business salespeople, the top performers exhibited modesty, conscientiousness, curiosity, dominance, achievement orientation, competitiveness, and aggressiveness in their selling styles.

Let us consider how nudges apply to three segments of a sales team

Nudge for the top-performing salesperson

Nudge for a top-performing salesperson has to trigger the above traits in a person to make the right decision.

“ Hey John, Follow up with prospect Sarah; you are 100000 dollars short of reaching the top one position on the sales employee of the month.”

“Yes, Schedule a meeting. ….. No, I will defer.”

The competitive, achievement-oriented salesperson will not let go of this opportunity of meeting Sarah and attain the top 1 position on the leaderboard.

Nudge for the nearly top-performing sales person

The mid-performing salespeople are nearly at the top, who are doing the right things and mimic the traits of high-performing salespeople.

How can we help this set of salespeople?

Analyze the sales data to check if the salesperson has consistently been in the middle quartile; has he slipped from the top quartile or gone up from the lower quartile? What trait(s) does he need to work on? Is he actively listening during customer conversations, following up diligently in the sales process, and actively tracking the competitors in the game?

Map the behavioral traits to nudge with the right message.

For example, If a salesperson has dropped from being a top performer, a motivational nudge to get the leader back in action would be the way to go.

A nudge comparing activities executed by a high performer on a similar deal will nudge him to walk towards the higher road for a salesperson in the middle quartile.

“ Hi John, your peer Matt has successfully sent the proposal on the first day of the inquiry. Do you want to send it now?”

Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

“ Hey John, your peer Sally planned a daily partner engagement plan to train partners that resulted in her on the top of the leaderboard. Do you want to plan a daily partner training program?”

Essentially, John looks for clues about the ‘right’ way to behave, especially in ambiguous circumstances. Sally’s success recipe is something John wants to emulate, and the nudge helps him follow one.

Comparison nudge may backfire if used to nudge a demotivated or bottom-performing salesperson.

Nudge for the bottom performing salesperson

A high performer takes their job seriously, with high conscientiousness levels, thereby being described as having a strong sense of duty, responsibility, and reliability. For a salesperson who has trouble selling and hitting the targets, following up with a prospect and the sales process is challenging.

Goals: how intentions impact results

  • Goals direct your attention to relevant information and tasks.
  • Goals give you the energy to act on various physical and cognitive tasks.
  • Goals increase your persistence. It enables you to endure for longer before giving up.
  • Goals encourage you to find better strategies. Having a better method can lead to better performance.
  • Harder goals that are accepted by the participant will lead to better performance than easier goals.
  • Focusing on a specific target will produce better results than merely doing your best. However, the goal should not be set too high, as it can have the opposite effect.
  • Goals can be made more effective when they are connected to implementation intentions. “I intend to write every morning at 7am.”

Tiny goals help us build the momentum we need to chase bigger goals.

“ Hey John, your sales review meeting is scheduled at 9 AM tomorrow with your manager. Three of your meetings have no summary notes and key action points. Do you want to update now?

A daily goal of planning and updating the sales meetings, with action points discussed with his manager, set the recipe for a good sales process, avoiding procrastination, and a better success rate.

How to nudge effectively

What’s a noodge, Daddy?” Vicky asked.

“A noodge,” Walt instructed her solemnly, “is one who noodges.”

“If you mean nudge,” I began.

“No. There’s a difference,” Walt said. “A nudge is like a gentle prod, but a noodge keeps it up, on and on and on.”

“A nag,” Bruce supplied.

“Well, sort of,” Walt said, “but with your best interests at heart — and never lets you forget it.”

How does it translate to sales teams? Nudge or noodge? A gentle push or pester. A noun or a verb?

When nudges are used in tandem with practical, motivational psychology tools, such as forming implementation plans, the benefits of nudges are amplified significantly.






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