You Create the Future by What You Reinforce Today

Yesterday, I blogged about, Selling Around The Triangle of Satisfaction, and how we tend to focus on competing interest. At the end of the post, I mention how continually working around the triangle as common interest surfaces increases buy-in. We could call it a Strength-Based approach, or we could just call it plain old positive reinforcement.

We know how positive reinforcements work, but I would like to summarize a few ideas that I borrowed from the work of Aubrey Daniels and primarily from the book, Other People’s Habits. This book has been a guiding light for me since it was first published in 2005. I encourage anyone involved in change management to read it.

Positive Reinforcement is in the eye of the receiver, not the sender: When most of us view positive reinforcements we view it from a perspective of how we are going to do it. Think how many times you receive a gift that you did not need, want or like. Why did that happen? The most logical reason is that someone did not ask or observe are actions or behaviors in the context of the gift.  We need to experiment and observe to find reinforcers or what people like. Seldom can we get it right the first time.

If you want more reinforcement, give more: The gaming industry has it down. They know how to give positive reinforcement and have changed an entire generation on this premise alone. When we introduce a product or service to a prospect we are asking them to change the way they are presently doing something. We sell them the features and benefits of why they should change. We may even give them free trials to get started to see how easy it is. However, seldom do we make an effort to break down our offerings in small enough steps to make it easier and build-in positive reinforcement. Look at positive reinforcement as behavioral fuel.

Think Small to accomplish big: When we break down tasks to the simplest component, we can complete them. Each time we complete something we feel good about ourselves. It works in Kanban moving a sticky note to the done column or in Outlook when we check one of those boxes. It is a form of positive reinforcement. The best advice you can have for setting goals is to set them low, forget the stretch goals. If you set them low enough the probability of obtaining them is high.

You create the future by what you reinforce today: When we view the sales process, we often find it difficult to sell from a strength-based perspective. We can be positive, but being positive is not positive reinforcement. We must look for the common interests that exist between us and the prospect. We must then reinforce that interest by making sure that..

  1. The reinforcement is meaningful to the recipient
  2. The reinforcement is earned
  3. It is immediate
  4. It is frequent

In your next sales effort, is there a way that you can break down the steps? Would it be better to meet with four separate people in separate offices versus all in one conference room? Would your sales call be more meaningful and would your prospects come away with more knowledge? Would it be easier to find common interests? Would it be easier to provide positive reinforcement?

P.S. To start with Positive Reinforcement, start with yourself. Or as Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar, “The fault Dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

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