Motivation is defined as inducement, drive, incentive – something that gets people do think or do things. People think and do exactly what they want. Nobody can make anybody do something they don’t want to do. Threats of violence may appear to do so but only temporarily – lasts as long a s the threat stays real. Money may seem to motivate but only if the individual wants more money.
To most people, motivation is something that happens to them, from some external source. They rely on managers or “motivational” speakers to supply the spark that can ignite a fire under their asses and somehow force or compel them to do something. It should be obvious by now that the entire motivational charade is like the Emperor’s new clothes. Even the emperor can’t see them, as much as he would like to believe that he can. Everybody joins in hoping that the illusion will become reality.
The morning after the seminar is like the morning after an all nighter of binge drinking on the strip in Las Vegas. Under the harsh light of day the fairyland castles of lights and glamour look dingy and decadent. There is nothing of substance to carry forward into the sales battles ahead.
Like a crack addict, the motivational junky is always on the prowl, going from guru to guru seeking a quick fix. The motivational speakers, like the drug dealers, are always there to provide that fix. Of course you must continue to pay for seminars, books, tapes, secret club memberships – the list is endless.
Here are the common external motivators:
Money – Most of us need money, but after enough is earned to pay or base living expenses the motivational value of more money drops precipitously.
Awards – Everybody likes to have their talents and accomplishments recognized. Awards are fun the first few times you get one. After that the shines fades off the trophies and the realization sets in that next month some other rep gets the same trophy. Big deal.
Pep-Talks – Your sales manager may take you aside and give you “the talk.” This can take many forms but the most common is how he overcame great obstacles and slew some dragon or other and how you can do it to if you work “harder and smarter.” Another classic is the “no-pain, no-gain” mantra. Ten minutes later, if you think about it at all, you won’t remember a word, and it won’t matter to you at all.
Contrived Competition – Sales contests, beyond the fame they can bestow on winners, can seem to motivate. This technique works best with sports fans who get easily obsessed with games and scorekeeping. Many reps can care less about sports, perhaps not admitting it for fear of being ostracized. Either way, the contest soon ends, another starts up, and sooner or later even the diehard fans tire of the mouse-in-a-wheel nonsense, realizing that a trip to Hawaii does not pay the bills or build a career. The worse aspect of contest is that for every winner you have a large number of losers. The winner may be “motivated” but what about all those losers? They are at best bored but more likely jealous, resentful, and suffering from bruised egos and damaged self-esteem. What is your guess for the next month’s sales now?
Threats – If you are way behind quota or took too much time off, you will eventually be threatened with this or that “very bad thing.” Ultimately you can be fired. If you don’t like or value the job, because you aren’t good at it, dissatisfied with the pay or working conditions, or are looking for a new job anyway, threats to fire you have the reverse effect of that intended.
People do exactly what they want to do. This is a primary reality for humans, since we have “free will” and are not governed or limited by instinct. External motivators never work because they can’t work. They go against this primary rule of human nature. They may work temporarily or longer if force is applied continuously, but eventually the rule wins out and the so-called motivation vanishes.
Here are the primary internal motivators:
Need – If the rent is due and the babies are hungry the calls will get made. The single best predictor of sales success is simply the absolute need to succeed.
Ambition – This is most often the need to prove something to one’s self, or more like others. If Dad was a big shot, Junior has to match up. If the best buddy makes it to the next rung, then climb we must.
Competitiveness – Some of us are driven not for any specific reward, but to edge out a competitor and win the race. If the race was off a cliff, he would want to get there first anyway. A common statement from such a rep is that they love it when a top gun is hired so once again the game will be challenging and they can make more money. Recruiting top reps is thus more effective than contests.
The common denominator with internal motivators is that no outside forces are required or relevant. Indeed, anybody that tries to “motivate” an internally motivated individual will be resisted and resented. What can they possibly say or do that the individual has not already said to or done to herself?
In case there is any doubt as to my opinion on motivation, let me say here unequivocally, that motivation is bullshit. What can a rep or manager do to enhance drive? The only possible answer is inspiration.
We are under a constant barrage of negativity and cynicism. Somehow, it became cool to be a loser. If you have ambitions, you are seen to care about your life. The posers all around you can’t stand that as then you make them look like what they are.
Although such stories are in the minority, there are nonetheless countless positive uplifting stories readily available in books, movies, television, audio, online, and more. We are blessed to live in a era of virtually unlimited access to everything human beings create. This choice can be overwhelming and the responsibility awesome. You need to take charge of what you allow to enter into your mind. You are what you think and you think what you perceive.