The Candle Problem: Rethinking the Way we do Business

What truly motivates your employees? How do you, as a business owner, foster a more efficient workplace to ultimately drive sales and increase profits? Well, traditional business practices would lead one to believe that extrinsic motivators, like monetary rewards, are the best way to motivate your employees. However, recent studies show that there may be a mismatch between how businesses “motivate” salespeople and what science knows to be effective.

This is the subject of speaker Daniel Pink’s speech, “The Surprising Science of Motivation.”

The Candle Problem: Participants are tasked to attach a candle to a wall in such a way so wax will not drip on the table below. To do this, the participant may use a book of matches and a box of thumbtacks.

Some participants try to use the tacks to fix the candle to the wall. It doesn’t work. Other try to melt part of the candle and stick it to the wall. That doesn’t work either.

The Solution: Empty the box of thumbtacks, put the candle into the box, use the thumbtacks to nail the box to the wall, and stick the candle in the box.

The message of the candle problem is simple and can easily be applied to the business community, especially motivation. We must stop looking at what we think we see…what we think we know about motivation and start looking for more creative and effective ways to encourage salespeople and ultimately bolster sales.

The fact is that traditional, extrinsic rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

“I can’t tell you how many leaders I speak with that think their sales people are motivated by money, but most aren’t,” said Springboard CEO Karin Schwartz. “It’s rarely about money.”

In fact, according to Dr. Bernd Irlenbusch of the London School of Economics, “financial incentives…can result in a negative impact on overall performance.” Instead, Daniel Pink encourages the use of intrinsic business motivation, which work because of three key factors:

  • Autonomy: The urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery: The desire to get better and better and something that matters
  • Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

“It’s not uncommon to see sales people motivated by cultivating long term relationships, helping others, finding the missing puzzle piece, receiving the accolades/appreciation, etc.,” said Karin. “The faster a business owner realizes how their people are motivated the faster they can develop a culture that thrives.”

If you have any questions about Business Development, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial burden of an in-house business developer.

At Springboard we know sales!

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!