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Article: Motivating someone who doesn’t know what they want

Posted by: In: Motivation, NLP, Sales Coaching 19 Sep 2010 Comments: 0

By Richard White

I was working with a sales manager this week who was saying how difficult it was getting a few of his sales team motivated. When I asked him whether he had done goal setting sessions with his team he told me that he had but some of his team were ‘half empty’ kind of people and they could never work out what they wanted.

This sales manager was involved in technical sales where this can sometimes be a problem. People with a technical background often have a different way of motivating themselves to the archetypal sales person who will never have a problem telling you exactly what they want! This does not mean that technical people do not want things. It just means we need to adopt a slightly different approach when helping them find motivational goals.

At a very simplistic level, there are two different ways people motivate themselves. The first is focusing on what they want. People good at sales typically think this way. They want things and are motivated to move towards achieving them. You ask them what they want and a few minutes later they have reeled off hundreds of things and they have only just got warmed up! The challenge is to get them to focus on specific key goals and link achieving those goals to hitting their sales targets.

The second are motivated to move away from what they don’t want.  You ask them what they want and often they will struggle to tell you. Ask them what they don’t want and they will wax lyrical!

For example:

  • They don’t want to work for the rest of their life
  • They don’t want to struggle to pay their bills
  • They don’t want their kids to go to a state school

Finding out this information, however, is only half the story. You need to ask them what they want instead so that you can link it to their sales activity.

If they don’t want to work for the rest of their life then when DO they want to work until and how much will they need to have saved up to retire at that age?

If they don’t want to struggle to pay their bills then how much money DO they need to earn so that paying their bills would no longer be a struggle and they can actually start saving?

If they don’t want their kids to go to a state school – what school DO they want their kids to go to? How much would it cost per term?

People who think in this way can get just as motivated as any other person. They sometimes just need a different approach to get there.

These approaches to motivation tend to be fairly ingrained and take a lot of time and effort to change. It may be quicker to help them discover their goals by starting off with what they don’t want and then regularly reminding them of their goal and why it’s important to them.

The way people motivate themselves is something you should be looking out for during the recruitment process and there are ways to spot an individual’s approach to motivation by simply listening to the words they use. The benefits of learning how people are motivated go well beyong getting your sales team firing on all four cylinders. The ability to spot how people motivate themselves is something that’s also incredibly useful when motivating prospects to buy!

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