Excerpt on Motivation from Jack Wilner's 7 Secret to Successful Sales ManagementExcerpts From 7 Secrets to Successful Sales Management

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Motivation -- Key to Excellence

"You don't motivate people to succeed, instead you provide people with an opportunity to succeed and they will become motivated."  - Herzberg

   A generation ago when I was an undergraduate taking a course in basic psychology, the professor called my attention to a man named Ernest Dichter. He was called "the Father of Motivation."

   Dr. Dichter impressed me no end. He was the first person to put Mrs. Consumer on the couch and psychoanalyze her, looking for deep-down reasons for purchasing one product rather than another. Some of the biggest companies of the day (many of them are still around) were his clients and their marketing programs reflected Dr. Dichter's findings.

   Motivation is still a viable concept. Even during the nineteenth century, motivation, though not called by that name, was discussed. More than a hundred years ago the English historian and critic John Ruskin expressed it this way:

"In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be for it; they must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it."

In other words, to get your staff to perform at optimum ability,

  • they must be convinced it's a good thing;
  • they must realize that too much of even a good thing can be unhealthy ("the burnout syndrome")
  • they must see that rewards come to those who work hard.


   Many years ago I heard a speaker talk about motivation and say, "There is some bad news and some good news about motivation. The bad news is that you can’t motivate anybody; all motivation is self-motivation. The good news is that the only motivation that is really effective is self-motivation." Your primary job as a sales manager is to create an environment where your sales people will motivate themselves. They will change their thinking about getting the sales job done from "have to" to "want to."

   Our wants are great motivators. It might take a little digging, but if you can discover what each of your salespeople wants, then you will have him or her working hard to achieve it. But, don't worry that once those wants are fulfilled, the salesperson will lay down on the job.

   Several decades ago, Douglas McGregor, an American management expert, said that "man is a wanting animal. As soon as one of his needs is satisfied, another appears in its place. This process is unending. It continues from birth to death."

   Of course, wants have cultural components. A few years ago, when a big rebuilding program was progressing in St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a stateside contractor set up a business to build new homes and rebuild others that had been devastated by a hurricane.

   The contractor was pleased when his crew performed exceptionally well. By the end of the fourth week, he gave the foreman a sizable bonus as incentive to complete the second half of the building job. It was a Friday afternoon and the crew was to begin again early Monday morning.

   On Monday morning most of the crew showed up, but not the foreman. The puzzle continued right into Tuesday, when the man arrived with a big smile and no apologies. The contractor asked why he had not showed up, or let him know that he wouldn’t be there. The foreman said matter-of-factly, "Why, boss, you paid me for Monday ahead of time, and it was such a good day, I just went fishing."

   So much for the McGregor principle of continuing wants. Each person has a ceiling of ambition and it is the sales manager's job to discover how high it is.

   Sometimes the most effective motivation is a veiled or real threat. A story is told about Dave Bristol, the manager of the San Francisco Giants. His baseball team was lagging badly and he needed to do something to spark more spirit into his men one way or another.

   On the morning of the next big game he called the men together and said: "There'll be two busses leaving the hotel for the ballpark. The two o'clock bus will be for those of you who need a little extra work. The empty bus will be leaving at five o'clock."

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