As is the case in most American households, we tend to watch a lot of shows about food. My better half is a borderline fanatic. She records the Iron Chef, Last Cake Standing and Chopped with religious fervor. I usually end up watching unintentionally, but I have to admit that those shows are surprisingly entertaining. One thing that always intrigues me is the way chefs describe their dishes. It’s never “Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.” It’s a “A tenderized choice beef cut battered and flash fried in peanut oil with hand whipped Idaho potatoes and slow cooked giblet sauce.”

Obviously the second description sounds much more sophisticated. Maybe the description makes you overlook the fact that you’re eating chicken fried steak, I don’t know. I do know that I’d expect to pay much more for the second dish and there’s a good chance that I’d be more willing to order it.

So is Atlantic Sea Salt better than plain salt? Is there some special flavor extracted from the sea? Do Sun Dried tomatoes taste better than tomatoes dried out in other ways? Do the sun’s rays bring flavor? Do Idaho Potatoes taste much different than potatoes from other regions? (Perhaps a sensitive subject to Idahoans so I’ll assume the answer is “Yes”). Do French Cut green beans really taste better than green beans cut in other ways? (My wife swears they do.)
The best answer may be it doesn’t matter. If you perceive something to be better because of its origin or even its name, then it’s better to you and that’s all that counts when you sit down to eat.
I wonder if the same tactic can be used to spice up compensation plans. We already market our products and services with creative names, compensation programs could be as well.

The Net Sales Commission Plan could be called the Prodigious Wealth Opportunity Plan.

The Retention Bonus could be named the Exemplary Service Quality Award.

The Revenue Growth Component could be more exciting as the High Performing Revenue Growth Achievement Kicker.

Now those plans would get me excited to sell! Of course, before I get too excited I’d have to make sure that the reps could still understand their plans. I have to admit that when I sit down to eat Pecan Encrusted Tilapia with olive infused basil cream; I really don’t know what I’m getting into. Regardless, creating a buzz and some excitement is never a bad thing.

Image: Simon Howden /