Mission: Motivation—Your Business Success Depends on It!


Many of us came to the world of selling by surmounting the lowest barrier possible: luck, post-grad financial pressure, or because it was the only option available. I plunged into my first sales job right after finishing my studies at a music conservatory. (They didn’t teach flautists like me how to become the Pied Piper, so I was lucky and desperate.)

This is all okay. The reason you came into the business doesn’t need to be the reason you’re still here. But if you want to remain, and thrive, a willingness to work hard isn’t enough.

Your answer to the big question—why am I here, doing this?—can’t be an abstraction. It should inform every aspect of your thought process and delivery and provide the drum roll behind every pitch. Because, let’s face facts, making sales is tough and requires persistence. Lose sight of your motivation and soon you’re jumping the same low hurdles, or worse.

Defining motivation is simple: It’s the resources you’ve accumulated that prompt you to act in a certain way. In the context of sales, you might think that refers to your obligations—to make a quota, provide for your family, best your rival, etc.

For ongoing success, however, there’s a need to go much deeper and closer to big questions about meaning than you might suspect. Successful salespeople often are simply doing what competitors don’t want to do. They manage this by channeling their core motivational drivers, the ones that result in genuine personal satisfaction.

Woody Allen was right when he declared 80 percent of success was just showing up.  But what makes you keep showing up? If current research is on the right track, loving what you do, and being gratified by it, isn’t just a perk. It’s the key to the whole success puzzle.

Positive psychology, which focuses on what we need to live a good life, is a relatively new discipline. But I see glimmers of it in the work of Frederick Herzberg, who began studying employee motivation about 60 years ago. He identified six positive drivers of performance. Do any of these sound familiar?

Achievement. No, we’re not talking just about outperforming the next girl or guy. What goals are you setting for yourself? Are you hamstrung by low expectations? Try to imagine what you’d be proud to tell your great-grandchildren about your life. This is more about how you live than what prizes you win.

Recognition. This motivation is tied to both satisfaction and dissatisfaction. If no one notices what we do well, we’re dissatisfied. The positive upside entails more than a cash bonus: the genuine respect of bosses and colleagues is the essence.

Work Itself. “He’s a born salesman.” “She’s got the gift.” When work takes you to a place that’s beyond pleasure, when you’re in what psychologist Martin Seligman calls flow, you’re not just efficient; you’re living a good life.

Responsibility. Pushing beyond “it’s all on me” and other negative constructs, many successful people are energized by knowing others count on them to bring their best game. For many of us, responsibility is validation of our talent and commitment.

Growth. Think of the folks who grew up in analog and moved into the digital age without a hitch. Likely these are people who keep expanding their knowledge boundaries. When challenged to adapt their skills or acquire new ones, these folks are in the sweet spot.

Advancement. Those of us who have a linear conception of life often feel secure in placing an ‘A’ next to the first professional endeavor and seeing how much of the alphabet can be tackled. Again, get beyond the superficial (the next promotion) and see this as a journey on which the big advancements might be perceivable only to you.

By now you should have the principle in mind. Motivation and meaning are inextricably linked. When you’re in tune with both, ambitious goals don’t look audacious; instead, they’re business as usual.

Judi Rosenthal

Judi Rosenthal is a New York-based financial industry consultant and self-promotion coach renowned for her ability to win sales in any situation. She is also a recognized authority on niche marketing and coaching financial advisors in the techniques of amplifying sales through a well-engineered personal brand.

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Judi Rosenthal