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Olsen on Sales: Motivation Is a Muscle

Great salespeople are money-motivated.” Money yes, but not money only. Humans are motivated by love, recognition, feeling of being a part of something, and pride. Humans are also comfort motivated.

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Great salespeople are money-motivated.” Money yes, but not money only. Humans are motivated by love, recognition, feeling of being a part of something, and pride. Humans are also comfort motivated. Most humans, when they make the amount of money that makes them comfortable, relax. This is how Rome fell and this is why there are so many close games in sports.

Psychology tells us that happy people are those who appreciate what they have to its fullest; unhappy people don’t appreciate anything. Organized religion asks us to be thankful for what we have. I agree with both, for our personal lives. What we are talking about is our commercial lives as commission salespeople.

In our professional life—selling—we are told to always push for more. It seems our bosses are NEVER satisfied with our results. “Great job but you know you could do more… etc.” This creates a conundrum for the professional seller. To be “happy” we should be content, to be successful at our life’s work, we must never be content.

Fortunately, we have strong minds with many compartments. In our personal lives, we must be happy with what we have (which will also help us sell more), but in our commercial lives we train ourselves to fight the natural tendency to relax when we reach our comfort level. This takes mental focus and emotional practice, because the “wanting to relax” is an emotional, natural response to hitting a milestone.

How Do I Stay Motivated?

This is one of the questions experienced salespeople ask me most. When we start out, we are just trying to hang on, figure it out and not get fired. This is a tough, challenging and exciting time for us all.

After a few years we’re out of the danger zone, we’re doing OK or even very well, but we get stuck.

Personal example: The first time I broke six figures I took my foot off the gas pedal for five years; I left a lot of money on the table while expending the same amount of time and energy I would have to make three times as much. All I needed was more motivation and focus. This is where I find a lot of my students.

Below are proven ways to motivate ourselves:

  1. Exercise. Regular exercise, that makes us sweat, is necessary for professional salespeople who want to stay fresh. Sales is physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding. Exercise is BY FAR the best for keeping us in “sales shape.” Exercise also makes us feel strong and gives us “command presence,” which our customers feel and respond to in a positive way.
  2. Goal setting. Written, action-specific, time-sensitive goal setting has proven to keep us motivated. We write out specific goals to motivate ourselves. We put our written goals on our desktop where we can look at them daily. Goal setting gives us our “what for.”
  3. Read or listen to sales gurus or inspirational speakers. We need reinforcement and reinforcements. Listening to the greats in our field gives us sales knowledge. It reinforces what we already know. Reading is a conversation with smart people whom we make our allies—our reinforcements.
  4. Self-talk. Pre-year, pre-month, pre-day, and pre-call self-talk is a must. We must tell ourselves that we are great; we must be our biggest cheerleader and adoring fan.
  5. Mini-prizes and contests. If we hit our number, we will give ourselves a three-day weekend the following month. Conversely, if we don’t hit our number, we make ourselves come in an hour earlier for a month. We can do this with lunch. If we hit our number by noon, we eat out, if not, eat in.
  6. Breaks. Schedule breaks. Unfocused, weak calls are a waste of time. Know your body, but I like a 10 to 15 minute walk every two hours if I’m in high-intensity sales mode.
  7. Avoid negative people (even if they love you). Negative people demotivate us by definition. Stay away from them.
  8. Positive people. Seek them out and hang out with them. “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Being positive takes courage.  Motivation is a muscle we grow through conscious practice.