As a Wharton Finance graduate and a life-long entrepreneur and businessperson, I can confidently say that having a strong foundation in the principles of economics has had a significant impact on my professional success. While economics and finance have served me well, the pragmatic lessons that I've learned regarding how people make financial decisions have been even more useful. If we as sales professionals can think more like pragmatic economists than academic ones, we’ll have a better understanding of how purchasing decisions are actually made, and in turn, see an improvement in our overall sales performance.
While I don’t necessarily expect you all to have the time to take a full course in economics (or even to read an economics textbook, for that matter), there are some lessons in economics that can be easily (and enjoyably) digested in Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s best-selling book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. This book does not teach your typical economics topics (like supply and demand, monopolies, elasticity, and so forth). It does, however, provide a pragmatic view of how economic decisions are made, and teaches you how to view the world through the lens of an economist. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book if you’re interested in expanding your “economic mind.”
(For those interested in delving even deeper, I recommend checking out Levitt and Dubner’s podcast, Freakonomics Radio.)
Here’s a summary from Amazon Books:
“Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
“What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
“How much do parents really matter?
“These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—and reaches conclusions that turn conventional wisdom on its head.
“Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more.
“Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.”
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