According to Medical News Today, the notion that a person uses only 10% of their brain is a myth. fMRI scans show that even simple activities require almost all of the brain to be active.

It’s a 10% myth, and it’s debunked. 

A better question for sales leaders is: How do we help salespeople increase their conscientiousness and their brain’s focus on accomplishing sales goals? I want you to remember this. We do what we value. So, if we get down even deeper, the question is: How do we help salespeople value their goals at the highest level? 

Understanding What Motivates Salespeople

Salespeople are only motivated by one of two things: competition and income levels for specific reasons. A salesperson is not motivated by both of these. Well, they are, but one of them is more important than the other from one salesperson or another. 

My research shows that only 25% of top sales people are motivated by competition. And since most of our motivation attempts by the companies that we’re a part of are either fear motivated or through the competitive trip strategies, I want to focus on the other 75% and lead them to a better life. 

Survival vs. Better Lifestyles

You see many entrepreneurs and high-activity sales professionals get stuck in survival mode. They don’t organize activities to establish a better, more stable way of life. They end up doing sales activities to provide for survival needs such as mortgage payments, food, minimum debt payments, and even failure. 

Salespeople automatically default to efforts that keep them eating, sleeping, communicating and traveling. As a result, they make on-the-grid subsistence, rather than ambitious lifestyle goals or greatness, become their organizing principle. Everything in their brain and activities is directed toward those things—those survival needs. 

Even those with higher aspirations may meander without specific goals. In some cases, top salespeople don’t pay close attention to where their money goes, or they don’t make a plan for a better lifestyle and future. They chase more money, more recognition, or faster advancement without anticipating what lies around the bend of the next accomplishment. Their list of achievements grows, but their quality of life suffers with more debt, higher credit card payments, wasteful expenditures, and no safety net of savings. 

The stress and financial burdens begin to take their toll on these high achievers and their families. And, rather than fighting for a new lifestyle, many high-activity sales reps simply focus on the goals set by their sales managers. Sales quotas and resulting incomes typically reflect the company’s minimum requirements, or they can reflect the reps that aren’t competitive and are simply reaching toward the level of other top reps.

Company Sales Quotas vs. Rep Income Goals

Sales quotas are rarely focused on each rep’s present or future needs. Some reps just do their duty, and even though this is a commendable character trait in many settings, it obscures the work reality in their own sales goals.

I’ve watched sales reps get a high five for their faithful service only to borrow money to pay for a new roof. And rather than survival numbers, frenetic achievement or boring duty, the right sales goal will relate to a person’s current and future needs. 

Using the Survival Lifestyle Sheet Tool

Now, I want us to think about someone’s desired income, and most people really do not have that. We’re going to help these reps by getting them to increase their desire for a specific goal. One tool that you can use is something that I call a Survival Lifestyle Sheet. I call it that, because we want to help reps enjoy the lifestyle of their choice. We don’t want them to eke out a living from month-to-month. There are a couple of columns inside this tool. The column on the left represents what a sales rep would need to survive each month, and the column on the right would represent their desired lifestyle and future uses of income. Once both columns are filled out, you can total each side to come up with a number that will lead to a better lifestyle for them.

So, what do I mean by that? Let’s take the survival numbers on the left side of the sheet. On a monthly basis, you can write down housing, rent, mortgage, utilities, food, telephone, gas, insurance, car payment, credit card payments, loan payments, and any other things you’d want to put down. Then, have them write down their IRS and state taxes, and they will have a survival subtotal. In other words, when they hit this target, they’ll be even. 

A lot of reps are running through the month, or months, making sure they’re staying even—staying just ahead of the creditor. That’s not a healthy future kind of motivation. It really just keeps someone permanently in a state of worry without enough savings in the bank. Their debt load isn’t decreasing, so we need the right hand side of the page. If  we have them stop and look out two years from now, and we ask, “Is it okay if everything’s the same as it is today financially for you?” We’re hopeful that a conscientious person, or person that is able to be coached, will say, “No.”

The column on the right side of the tool plans out the extra income that can help make life better. Things like debt reduction and savings for emergencies that could jeopardize our current survival situation become concrete. Questions are answered like:

  1. How much would we like to reduce debt?
  2. How much each month would it take to reduce debt by that much?
  3. How much a month would it take to have a down payment for a house in two years?
  4. How much money would we want to put aside to pay for a new car?

Write these things down. In other words, these are the numbers that would give us a better lifestyle.

If we’re always on the edge, we won’t even have money for things that happen that jeopardize our current situation—a car or air conditioner breaking down. We need money to set money aside, or we just throw out the credit card, right? Our savings are really important, and, when you have more and more savings, you have less and less financial worry. 

Sales Leaders Leading by Example

Do you know that most people don’t do this? Even most sales leaders do not do this. When I was in Florida speaking to a group of sales leaders that ran the day-to-day sales operations, I found that only 2 out of 23 had specific income goals with a strong desire to reach them. Only two of the people that were leading the salespeople had goals they were passionate about. Without helping reps to see and set specific emotional goals for themselves that will make their life better, sales leaders tend to lead by competitive rewards or by fear. That’s not a way to lead anybody, and it starts with the leaders.

Summing It All Up

So, this is a survival lifestyle sheet. On the one side is a survival number you must hit to break even, and on the other side are the numbers that will make life better for you and those you love. When we’ve completed this, we’re looking at sales goals that make sense and will emotionally drive us. 

But, you know, not everybody is ready to do this. There are people floating through life that will have a hard time taking responsibility for today and how it impacts the future tomorrow for themselves and the people in their care. We want to make sure we recruit people who have a high level of conscientiousness even if they don’t have a great understanding of their own goals in the future, because they can be coached, right? 

I’ve seen those people change their lives. The leaders and managers who were helping them by coaching and mentoring were very important to them. You can do this. You can help salespeople toward an off-the-grid kind of sales success rather than surviving or just doing what the company wants. When you do that, you will have a better purpose yourself as a sales leader, and you will have people say, “I am glad I worked for you.”

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