Why Do Salespeople Need Motivation Boosts More than Anyone Else?

Scott Leese

Let’s set aside the debate over whether salespeople need motivation boosts more than anyone else for now, and let’s assume this is true.

If you ask somebody to do a task one hundred times today, what will they tell you? 

Now, what if you also tell them that if they’re really good [and/or lucky] they might successfully complete that task one to three times out of a hundred? How willingly would somebody agree to these terms?

I get it. If you don’t work in sales you may think salespeople are overly-emotional, whiny, entitled folks who always need, and want, more than anybody else.

Guess what? You’re probably right.

But what you’re wrong about is that the job is difficult, not easy, and that because salespeople have the opportunity to be paid well they should shut up and not need any more pats on the back or motivation than other roles.

Personality Assumptions

I think it’s important to know who salespeople are in order to understand why they need more motivation than most. Let’s start with some basic assumptions about the personalities of successful salespeople.

  1. Salespeople tend to be HIGHLY competitive. Competitive people thrive on recognition. So much so that in some cases, the validation and glory mean more to them than any monetary form of compensation.
  2. Salespeople are often confident and outspoken, and vocalize their needs and desires profusely. The takeaway here is perhaps they advocate for their needs more loudly than others, and therefore have them met more frequently.
  3. Salespeople are masters of storytelling and emotions. The transference of this enthusiasm from one person to the next could be called the foundation of sales itself in fact. Because of this, we are required to be passionate and emotional.

So why might salespeople need more boosts and motivation than others?

  1. A profession with a 99% failure rate is emotionally more difficult than other professions. Imagine if a dentist had a 99% fail rate. What if a journalist got 99% of their stories wrong? Can you imagine the chaos if the mailman delivered mail to the wrong house 99% of the time?
  2. Salespeople ride the rollercoaster of emotions in their day to day more than anybody. Stoked because you beat your target last quarter? Awesome, your target this quarter just got doubled. Expectations have never been higher in our profession. If you are venture backed and growing less than 100% YOY you are looked at with disdain. Do you know how hard that is to deal with mentally? This pressure contributes to fragile emotional states that need a boost to balance out the tough times.
  3. Ever been in a slump and had your income halved or your job on the line based on how you perform this month? The pressure you are under is immense. It’s not hard to understand why a pep talk might go a long way for us to get our swagger back up every so often.
  4. The positive to negative ratio in sales is on a SHARP negative slant. If it takes 7 positives to erase 1 negative, salespeople are working at a positivity deficit every single day of their careers. Motivation boosts are life water in a desert of “no’s” and rejection.
  5. Sales is a monotonous, repetitive cycle, and can be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. It can sap the energy from a body, a sales floor, and an organization. Motivation is like a caffeine kick to the body, releasing adrenaline and a rush of energy.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe some data. I did a quick search for “Motivational Videos for Salespeople’ and it returned 20.5 million results. Seems like demand is there to me. But where does the demand come from?

Why the high failure rate?

One of the reasons we have such a high failure rate in sales is that many in the profession do not operate their job functions within a true sales process. This causes chaos, missed opportunity, wasted time and energy, and ultimately a heavy toll on the salesperson and the org. 

If we can get more companies to fully buy into the [mostly] accepted reality than in order to be truly successful in sales, you have to follow a sales process and adhere to the principles and tactics which have proven themselves to be successful over time. 

The Financial Issue

Is there another profession where your paycheck varies so radically? I’ve made $100k in a month and I’ve made $0 in a month before. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! Think of the risks salespeople are taking by subjecting themselves to financial swings like this. This is not about buying fancy cars or vacation homes. This is about people dealing with these swings trying to make rent, car payments, and pay for groceries. 

The need for education and training around healthy financial habits is huge. Perhaps another opportunity to eliminate the need for constant motivation of salespeople would be a change in the way they are compensated. Can you perform at your optimal level when you are worried about making rent? Do you know how to balance your budget in case you earn 50% less next month than this month? 

For now, try to show some energy and empathy to the plight of the salesperson. Understand how they are wired along with the degree of difficulty of the job they are doing. Providing them with some motivation and inspiration [even if it’s everyday] should not be something you loathe doing, but rather as a healthy supportive way to get the most out of your team.

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