Even the most enthusiastic salespeople dip into a rut.
Maybe you haven’t bounced back from a big loss. Or you just can’t focus. Maybe the project on your plate isn’t exciting. Or you’ve hit a wall of rejections.
Unfortunately, a well-meaning boss alone can’t motivate the in-the-rut salesperson.
More often, you have to get yourself fired up again – or start a new fire altogether.
Here’s help: 15 ways to motivate yourself – whether you need to hit a goal, bounce back from a letdown, create a new selling habit or just get back your mojo.
Reward yourself for starting
Most people – and especially salespeople – consider themselves reward-worthy when they hit the goal or finish the job. That mentality can be self-defeating. The reward seems so far off. So hard to obtain. So much so, it deters you from starting.
Instead, reward yourself for starting the task that curbs your motivation. But be reasonable: The reward you give yourself for starting isn’t meant to be on scale with the end reward. Try a coffee break with a mentor, boss or colleague who inspires you. Treat yourself to a book or download you’ve wanted for some time.
First, do it badly (if you must)
Perfectionism perpetuates low morale. You want to write the perfect proposal, make the perfect call, create the perfect presentation. Then, when you fall short, you’re even less motivated to move forward.
Start the job and keep going without trying to fix it as you do it. A rough outline, a first draft, a warm-up set of calls, a shoddy proposal. Progress creates enthusiasm. And you might find that what you’ve done isn’t all that bad anyway.
Plan an easier win
Salespeople who are best at self-management often use this crucial tactic: Break down every goal or job into small, measurable, achievable tasks. Then take an easier first win. (Nothing in sales is easy.)
All three components must be in place, though: Each task must be measurable and achievable. If they’re not, break them into even smaller pieces. The progressive wins are big morale-boosters.
Make a contract
You’re a salesperson. You live (and work) for contracts, right? Contracts are a powerful self-motivation tool, too.
Harvard University researchers found “commitment devices” – such as a contract with yourself – help people overcome reluctance (and lack of motivation) to tackle unappealing work. You can write one, set up calendar reminders to act on a commitment or use commitment apps such as StickK or Beeminder.
Ask yourself, ‘Why?’
To regain focus and motivation, write down a few reasons why you do what you do. Some salespeople says it’s providing a product or service that improves people’s lives. Others might say it’s the promise of prestige within their circle. For many salespeople, it’s to provide well for their family. With others, it’s the challenge of selling.
They key is to be concrete. Don’t dance around your truth. I want to do well so I can buy a boat. I’m selling this product because I believe it saves lives. I love my children, and this work helps me save for their education. I expect to be the highest-performing salesperson in the region.
Then focus on what you really want to get motivated.
Check your reality
Sometimes salespeople can’t get motivated because they truly have taken on too much or set too goals too high. In doing so, they’ve created their own chaos.
In this case, the job will still have to get done. But when it’s overwhelming, salespeople stay unmotivated and become resentful.
Now and going forward, lay out your workload. Talk to your boss or trusted colleague for advice on realistic goals and the amount of work that’s achievable. Then reset your reality. Reward yourself for the steps you take to reach goals. Relish in the bigger rewards you get when you achieve it all.
Researchers in one study found that exposure to the color green makes people happier and more motivated. In another study, researchers confirmed taking a walk boosts energy levels by 20% – more than enough to overcome low motivation. In a third study, researchers found walking sparks creativity.
See the connection: Take a walk outside and you’re exposed to natural green (assuming you’re in some green space) and you’re moving. You’ll boost morale, creativity (and potentially figure out the issue that’s got you perplexed) and – bonus! – improve physical health.
Be your cheerleader
You don’t have to cheer out loud, but a personal mantra chanted over and over internally can help pump you up, according to Penn State University researchers. Being positive toward yourself, and interacting in positive ways with those around you – aka “positive affectivity” – builds enthusiasm, energy and confidence. Those researchers claimed it can improve morale by 57%!
Tell yourself, “I got this,” “I can win,” “What I do is important to my customers” – anything that affirms your work and pushes you forward.
Most salespeople “dream” of success – the financial, professional and personal highs they want to reach. But several studies have found that visualizing – or “daydreaming” – about a success can also lead to success.
You see, our brains don’t differentiate between a real memory and an imagined, visualized one. If you imagine something vividly and the positive emotions that go with the experience, your mind will likely see it as “real.” That “victory” will motivate you to act toward making it happen for real.
Go ahead and take a few minutes to daydream about a success.
Do some mindless work
Salespeople often put off administrative work because it takes them away from selling. But that mindless work that you put off can help reignite your motivation because you can accomplish a lot and finally feel like you’re firing on all cylinders again.
Gather and submit those receipts. Update client contact information. Weed through your lists. Respond to low-priority email.
Next thing you know, those back-burner tasks that weigh on you are out of the way and you’re motivated to get started on something big.
Let up on yourself
Give yourself permission to walk away from whatever it is that is messing with your motivation. Go to the gym. Read a book. Clean your car.
But keep in mind: The alternative must be something worthwhile – something that builds your mind, body or career. It’s not just avoiding or skipping the real work.
Another caveat: This tactic is not meant to be used often – and is never the first choice. Try harder to work before play!
Move toward movement
Surround yourself with other people who are motivated and working hard toward their goals. It could be colleagues who inspire you (whether that’s through friendly competition or natural momentum). Or maybe it’s like-minded friends you meet up with at lunch or after work.
Who just accomplished something big? Who is always motivated? Which friend is methodical and successful?
Be around those people, ask questions and let their enthusiasm rub off on you.
Reading stimulates your mind – to grow, analyze, relax and be active. It impacts your thought processes – almost always in a positive way.
Now, we aren’t talking about just reading a newsfeed on your phone. To cultivate some intrinsic motivation, you want to pick up a book or e-reader and spend time with fiction or non-fiction. You can read motivational books, but those aren’t necessary to lift morale. Business, science fiction, romance, best-sellers – they all help you reflect, focus and grow intellectually when you aren’t reading.
Check your time card
It’s too easy for salespeople to work (or be accessible and ready to work) nearly all the time. You might have international clients calling in the middle of the night or a presentation on the other coast way before or after your waking hours. Sure, you’re getting important stuff done.
But you’re eating away at your morale.
It’s not realistic to feel energized and motivated around the clock. Sometimes you need to unplug from work to regain momentum and motivation. Try to schedule your work hours each week and stick to them. Set aside time – evening, all day Sunday, Saturday – for you and what you love.
Meet your match
Not all self-motivation needs to be done completely by yourself. Enlist the support of a trusted colleague, friend, social media follower or even a professional foe. Tell one of them what you want to do, and why you’re struggling with it (presumably a lack of motivation).
With a colleague or friend, ask if they’d check in on our progress (or if they’ll listen to your updates), plus how you’re feeling about it daily until you’re out of your funk. For a social media follower, commit to daily updates and watch for encouragement and advice.
And with the professional foe: Let your frenemy know your intentions in anticipation he or she will try to outdo you. Then you’re motivated to take the win.