Winning Starts with Why
This may not be what you’d expect to hear from an SVP of Sales but, some of the things I enjoy most about my job are just the personal one on one conversations I have with my direct reports. I’ve come to truly love the part of my job where I get to act as a mentor or advisor to someone and help them find their motivation for success.
Some people come to my team already knowing exactly what they want, why they want it, and how to get it. Others show up without ever having connected those dots and think they’re just here to work and get a paycheck. I’ve found that the people most passionately determined to become top performers are those who come to work everyday with their “Why” in mind. So, I like to help people find that.
When I first started working in a professional setting, my sports background gave me my initial push. I had always been competitive - so, I strived to outsell everybody on my team. Then, as I started to get the hang of it, I realized I hated cold calling and I didn’t want to have to do that anymore. I did like the idea of helping other people close deals.
So, with the negative motivation to not have to cold call anymore, and the positive motivation to get to help other people sell, I worked my ass off to be a good enough sales rep to get promoted to sales manager. Then, with each step in my career, my “Why” grew as I outgrew something else I didn’t want to do anymore and got a taste of something else I wanted to do more of.
In each position, my “Why” was what made me go to work everyday to be the best I could possibly be at whatever I was doing. Now, most of my “Why” is about leading other people - and a big part of that is about helping them find their own “Why.” It’s a big beautiful cycle.
I prefer to help people by sitting down and having a conversation. However, in an effort to share this with more people than I’m actually able to talk to in a day, I’ve tried to put it into a sort of self assessment. If you are looking for motivation, here are a few questions to ask yourself. (Rinse and repeat as necessary. You will outgrow your “Why” periodically.)
#1: What could be better in your life right now? Would more money or shorter hours make your life easier? Would new responsibilities make you happier, or just a bigger commission check? Once you identify what you would like to improve in your professional life, you’re likely going to be able to simplify it into one of two categories: a bigger paycheck or a different title.
- If a bigger paycheck is what you’re after, what are you going to do with the extra income? Are you saving for a new car? What kind of car? What color? Print out a photo of the exact car you want and put it in a frame on your desk. Maybe your financial ambitions are a little more complex. Maybe you want to pay off your debt and/or buy a home. The point is to visualize what your life would be like if you were able to do whatever it is you want to do. Then, never let that visualization leave your mind. That’s what is going to make you pick up the phone and conquer one more gate keeper after the rest of your team has called it a day.
- If a new title is what you want, identify exactly what it is about your current position you wish you would never have to do again, and exactly what it is about your next job that you want to get to do. I hate cold calling. Does that surprise you? I’ll say it one more time. I never want to have to cold call ever again for as long as I live. But I do it. I really love managing managers. There are layers and layers of stimulating and challenging fun in that for me. I also love surfing and going to my kids’ games. So, getting to spend more time doing that and less time in the office was motivation for me. Wherever you are now, there are reasons you want to move onward and upward. Keep those reasons written where you can see them at all times - sticky notes on your desktop work well!
#2: What are you willing to do to get what you answered on #1? Would you make 10 extra cold calls a day if it meant you might get to make your very last cold call six months from now and never have to do it again after that? Would you get to work an hour early every morning if it meant six months from now you could get to work at 10 everyday and have time to go to the gym before work? Would you listen to more of your Gong recordings if each one brought you closer to getting behind the wheel of your dream car?
It’s hard to replace a one on one conversation with a generalized questionnaire, but I hope this at least gets you thinking in the right direction. If you want to discuss it further, I’m always happy to assist! If this is something you’re discovered already, tell me your story. Why did you get to where you are? Why do you want to keep going? How many times have you seen a major shift in your “Why?”
If you want to dig a little more into intrinsic motivation - if your “Why” is more of a “that’s just who I am,” you might find this article helpful.