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Posted: December 22, 2010

Sales with a higher purpose

Make sure money isn't your only motivator

Julie Hansen

A director instructs an actor to walk across the stage, pick up a glass and say his line.

Actor: "What's my motivation?"
Director: "Your paycheck."

Sound familiar? As salespeople, there may be more truth to this than we care to admit. And why not? There's nothing wrong with pursuing financial success, but without an equally strong emotional motivation, how much effort will you put into your career when business slows down or competition heats up? Will you jump from job to job in search of that perfect combination of the right product, right client and right timing?

Say it along with me: "Sales is a numbers game." True, but beware. When approaching anything from a strictly financial motive, efficiency becomes your master, and any performance driven by efficiency, whether it's acting or selling, leads to cookie-cutter behavior and little time devoted to finding creative solutions. And if there were ever a need for creative solutions for most businesses - now would be the time!

About 85 percent of the Screen Actor's Guild members make less than $5000 a year. If money were the chief motivator for actors - there would be a lot fewer of them in the world! Most salespeople would quickly turn and run from such odds. What drives actors if not a love and dedication to what they do, a clear purpose and a consistent striving to improve? What ultimately drives you?

How to Find Your Motivation

When an actor takes on a role, one of his first challenges is to discover his character's motivation, for it will direct the character's actions throughout the scene and the course of the play. Using the following actor's steps to find your sales motivation can be just as helpful to keep you focused on the goal when things get tough.

1. "What am I Fighting for?" Most people get caught up in wants: I want to hit my sales quota. I want to close this deal. But wanting is a passive verb; it's just a feeling or desire with only the potential to lead to action. When you're fighting for something all of your senses are engaged. You are emotionally charged, determined. You consider all the possible ways to reach your goal. You don't hit a speed bump and get off at the next exit. Think back to the last time you fought for something. Was it a job? A relationship? A parking spot? No matter how trivial it may seem to others, if it's significant enough to you, even that first cup of coffee in the morning can be worth fighting for.

2. What is at stake? Actors know that in order to keep interest high, the stakes have to be equally high. No one wants to watch a movie about someone struggling to decide which pair of shoes to buy. Movies are great examples of ratcheting up the stakes: if the hero doesn't deliver the money by midnight, the bomb will go off. If the bomb goes off the hostages will die. If the hostages die, the country will go to war. Think about what's at stake for you: Is it your job? Paying your mortgage? Earning respect? Power? Satisfaction? The more important and specific you can make your goal, the more powerful a motivator it will be.

3. What is your higher purpose? Actors call this their "super-objective." While the actor has a series of immediate goals to accomplish within in the scene, the super-objective drives their overall action and carries out the theme of the play. Like an actor, we have immediate goals as well: prepare sales report, call client back, etc. But we also need to keep our eyes on the larger goals that provide purpose and direction to our lives. What are you hoping to accomplish in the big picture? How does what you sell contribute to that? Who do you ultimately benefit and how: the client, the end user, the community? Thinking big can carry you through the small steps along the way.

"The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life." Charles M. Schwab

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Julie Hansen helps sales professionals stand out and win more business using proven performance tools from film, stage and improvisation.  An international speaker, sales trainer and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro, Julie has worked with Fortune 500 companies like IBM and Oracle, as well as local Colorado companies needing a critical competitive edge with today’s busy decision-makers.  Learn more at www.actlikeasalespro.com.  Connect with Julie on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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