Motivate them with pie

Historically, my Scout troop does ok on our annual popcorn sale fundraiser.

The guys have done well enough over the years that a number of them managed to pay for their campouts pretty much year after year.

One of them had earned enough to buy himself a super nice down sleeping bag good down to 40F below zero. He likes to hunt in the backcountry all winter, so it was a good purchase for him.

On and off, a few of the guys did really well, reaching the scholarship level, where a percentage of their sales is put in a scholarship fund by the popcorn company.

But, as our troop’s average age rises and falls, we see a falloff during the years when our troop’s average age is a bit older. Teenagers have jobs, sports and other things – plus they just aren’t into the door to door thing.

Benjamin failed

The last 2 years, we tried a special incentive to get the boys motivated each week.

Each of 3 weeks of the popcorn sale, we offered the top seller for that week a crisp Benjamin (Yes, a $100 bill) if their sales reached a minimum level.

Of those 6 opportunities, we gave away ONE $100 bill.

Our sales were ok, especially given the age of the troop, but when $100 bills dont motivate a teenager who has gasoline needs, we knew we missed the boat.

New blood, new carrot

This year, we had a new-to-the-troop mom in charge of organizing our popcorn sale.

In addition, we have a number of new guys, so we expected the total sales to rise.

Still, we wanted to motivate them so they’d be able to pay their Scouting-related expenses over the year without asking their families for money. Times are tight in our little town, so every little bit helps.

Our new popcorn chairperson had some fresh ideas. She had get out of doing dishes on a campout coupons for minimum weekly sales and a big carrot for total sales over a certain amount.

Pie didn’t

The carrot? Getting to throw a pie in my face.

I’m the Scoutmaster. Tossing a pie in my face is a big, fun treat for a boy. Of course, I dragged my Troop Committee Chair into it. I wasn’t gonna meet the pie(s) alone, after all.

TEN boys qualified to throw a pie. That’s ten boys who exceeded our average sales-per-boy goal by $200 or more.

Our troop’s total sales were up NINETY FOUR percent.

I have a number of boys who struggle to fund campout expenses, gear and what not. Pie motivated them to work to pay their own way, a lesson worth learning.

Now I get to face 10 pies next Tuesday, but it’s worth it knowing how many boys don’t have to worry about campout expenses (and then some) for at least a year.

Think harder.

So why did pie work and a $100 bill not work?

Ever try to sell a comb to a bald man? That’s what the $100 bill was.

A $100 bill isn’t real in the world of many 12-15 year olds. They had trouble grasping the idea of  (and getting fired up about) something they’d never owned (and some had never seen), so they didn’t feel any motivation for it.

But…a pie in the face of an adult authority figure? That’s golden.

And you?

What are you doing to motivate your staff? Your customers?

What motivates you isn’t necessarily (and most likely isn’t) what motivates your staff or your customers.

Your job is to set your mindset aside long enough to find out what’s important in theirs.

The smart cavemen have mastodons chasing *them*

Every day, a lot of folks pull on the panty hose or cinch up the silk tie, drive a $20-30-40K car to the office and then proceed to pursue prospects with a club, just like the caveman did umpteen thousand years ago.

They’ve been told (or know from experience) that for every 500 (or 150, 0r 4500) prospects they chase, they’ll manage to catch and club a certain number and drag them back to the cave (er, I mean office) by the hair, just like those Geico guys used to do when they chased mastodons thousands of years ago.

So how does the modern day caveman decide what to do today? They look at their quota for the day and go out looking for someone to club.

But…I don’t see many doing the math. Of those who do, seems like an awful lot of them are taking that quota for the day and multiplying it times the number of mastodons… I mean prospects… it takes to get a daily-quota-full of customers.

Don’t get me wrong

I don’t want anyone to think that getting those new customers is a bad thing. It isn’t as long as you’re delivering what they want and need.

My point is that you’re wasting a lot of time chasing the mastodons that do little more than waste your time. Why chase something that runs 1 mph (in effect) faster than you?

To wear it down? What if you wear down first?

Will you be able to run just as fast at 50 as you do at 25 or 30? (inside secret – not likely, no matter what YOU think)

To be sure, if that’s the only way you can get there, by all means head out with your club rather than doing nothing.

Just keep in mind that you’re working harder than you have to. Not that there’s anything wrong with working hard (notice a pattern here?), but if you’re gonna lift mastodons over your head, lift the ones that pay off.

So what’s the alternative?

Get the mastodons to chase you

Taking your club, going out and getting 500 NOs so you can get 10 YESs works, but it works in a way that hides the waste.

What if you could get 25 to 50 of those people to line up in the “Maybe, tell me more” line IN ADVANCE?

Not only would you waste a lot less time hearing “No” but you’d have a TON more time to talk in detail with folks who are actually interested in what you’re have to offer them.

Instead of rushing from No to No, you’d have all that extra time to actually LISTEN to the Maybes. Imagine how much more you could learn about what they need.

Real time, real money

Let’s take a look at the real cost. “Extra time” is a little too fluffy for me.

Figure you spend 5 minutes at the most *on average* with those 500 prospects: 5 minutes per call times 500 calls is 2500 minutes.

That’s TWO and a half WEEKS, plus an hour and change, assuming you’re working 40 hour weeks. You’re getting nothing else done for that two and half weeks?

  • Can you pay your way on the 10 or 50 clients/sales that gets you over that 2 week period?
  • Can you maintain that pace?
  • Do you have that many leads? (1000+ leads per month)

It’s a lot easier and more profitable to be the expert that people in that market seek out by reputation.

Plus it gives you the time to serve those folks properly rather than wasting your time disqualifying (“getting rid of”) 450-475 people.

Let your positioning do that.