Is motivation over rated in sales?

Sales managers are often judged on how well they can ‘motivate’ their team to get results, pick up the phone, and go the extra mile in order to achieve sales.

Equally, when recruiting, businesses ask for highly motivated people who love sales!

You hear chatter around the water cooler or the coffee machine on Monday mornings in sales offices about how “I just can’t get motivated” or “the company or boss isn’t very motivating”.

There are 1000s of articles, books, videos and seminars dedicated to getting motivated to sell and hit targets and people are always searching for the key to motivating yourself and others in a sales environment.

Morning meetings imitating Glen Gary Glenn Ross, Wolf of Wall Street style speeches and cash incentives can all help momentarily – but have we got it wrong? Are we (sales people) too dependent on wanting external motivation?

Are we waiting to be energised by an external party or desperately seeking the right mantra to chant in the morning to fill us with energy and drive?

When the motivation isn’t there, we struggle to motivate ourselves and when the cash incentives are gone what can we do? Why should we be permanently inspired and motivated by our leaders, managers and team members.

What if we could just get on with it? Why should we as paid professionals need to be ‘motivated’?

Let’s look at the definition of motivation – ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’. There are few other job roles where the reason to do your role is so heavily based on how motivated you feel. I get it that making cakes, doing administration work or IT may not require you to use buckets of personality, charisma and flair and that in sales you need to feel great to get the best result. But are we too dependent on motivation and by the same rule are we often using it as a missing crutch to excuse us from producing results?

Do you go to the gym? Many of us pay gym membership but it’s not the same thing. Once I’m at the gym I feel good, and when I’m finished and I leave, I feel empowered and energised; I feel motivated.

But what is the hardest part of the gym process? It’s not the machines, weights or swimming – it’s putting down my crisps, lifting my lazy ass off the sofa and going to the gym. This part of my fitness regime doesn’t take motivation, a prep talk from my coach or a cash incentive, but this is when I need it most. To put down the Walkers, turn off the TV and walk out the door takes something more powerful and even more necessary for salespeople to possess. It takes self-discipline.

Self-discipline is the key driver that leads to motivation. As the great Zig Ziglar stated “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. In sales it is the act of starting that can be the greatest challenge and no amount of leadership, inspirational speeches or cash incentives is going to pick up that phone, knock on that door or tie your tie.

Practising self-discipline will create a mind set and a strategy that can get you through the toughest of times in sales and enable you to fly when things are good. Looking at yourself as disciplined rather than motivated allows you to unshackle yourself and your results from any external influences (positive or negative) and any need for third parties to control your success.

Like all things, self-discipline is a habit, and habits take time. But you don’t need a level of selfdiscipline that has to endure a long period of time. Sales discipline is only needed in short bursts as it quickly leads to motivation, and a motivation that nobody else controls.

“Two hours on a Sunday leads to a stress-free week” – Leon McCowan

Practise preparing your week on a Sunday afternoon. You’ll need a sofa, a brew, maybe a movie on the TV and your laptop on your knee. Two solid hours of casually preparing your week, who you’re going to call, what industries could you help, looking at your CRM, collating 50 people to prospect starting at 9am Monday morning will make you feel supremely confident.

These two hours will mentally prepare you for your week, make you feel like you’re one step ahead of everyone else (which you will be) and reduce your stress levels. Come 9am Monday when everyone else is ‘just making a coffee’ or sorting their preparation out you can be at your first meeting, making your first call or even closing that first deal. “You’re so motivated today!” your colleagues will shout – nope, just disciplined. Sunday prep will quickly become routine as will your commission.

Practise the discipline of ten before ten. This is not a new idea and something I and many others have practised for years. If you’re not ‘motivated enough’ to make prospecting calls’ and ‘haven’t got time’ then strive for self-discipline. Every day, before 10am pick up the phone and make 10 calls. They don’t even have to be good calls. It’s your warmup routine, your ‘sales stretches’ and soon you’ll be – motivated. Also, it creates 50 conversations every week and over your month that will create a healthy sales pipeline.

Leave it all on the pitch. When everyone is shuffling paper, staring at their screen in fake concentration and ‘winding down’ near the end of the day, practise the discipline of keeping going. It’s just an extra few minutes, a few more calls, one more meeting – but it’s a discipline that I’ve seen turn average salespeople into top salespeople. Plus, you can finish the day feeling satisfied that you did everything you could and have no regrets, you can feel proud – you can feel motivated.

So don’t wait for motivation, it’s over rated. Don’t wait for someone else to motivate you to be successful as it’s your own success that you’re putting in the hands of your manager or employer. This passing over of your own power and ability to create your own destiny is demotivating to you. Take charge of your actions and results by practising self-discipline in any form you can, and you’ll soon find that you are capable of incredible things. Self-discipline is the magic power that make you virtually unstoppable!