I was standing in front of a room filled with salespeople fielding questions—a normal day for me when I was doing sales training. Teach a little, train a little, then answer questions. These salespeople were typical; some rockstars, some newbies, and some middle-of-the-road folks just getting by.
I like fielding questions. It forces me to stay on my toes and think on my feet. Luckily, I have a lot of experience doing it.
A young lady who’d just started her sales career raised her hand waiting to ask a question. This was a little unusual for me. I was used to people just shouting out their questions. It took a second to see her hand in a mouse-like gesture waving at me.
Finally getting my attention in a soft, almost inaudible voice she asks me a question that sets me on a path of learning and self-discovery.
“How do I find the motivation to go prospecting when I don’t feel like doing it?”
I don’t usually have to pause after questions, but I caught myself for two full seconds pondering how to respond to her. I didn’t want just a shoot-from-the-hip answer. I could tell she was really looking for advice.
“You just do it and motivation comes,” I said in my typical no-bullshit, direct and to-the-point way (that I don’t always pull off in a nurturing manner). What I said felt right but I had no evidence to back it up.
She looked at me a bit puzzled and I saw a lot of the room nodding their heads.
“Motivation does not come before the action. It comes as a result of the action,” I went on to say. She asked for an example.
“Well, I don’t feel motivated to make cold calls right now because I’m teaching,” I said. The room laughed.
But they stopped laughing when I walked over, grabbed a landline phone, laid it on the table in front of me and asked the room to Google a manufacturing company.
It took sixty seconds or so before someone shouted, “I got one!”
“Give me the CEO’s name and phone number,” I said. Taking about four more minutes the group finally came up with the details. I asked them to find a couple more contacts in case this CEO did not answer.
The room became a buzz of excited, nervous energy when they realized what I was about to do.
“Do you guys know what the scariest sound in the world is to a salesperson?” I asked in my usual smart-ass way.
After no response, I hit the speakerphone and a loud dial-tone pierced the silence in the room. There was a collective laugh as they all understood.
With the details in front of me, I hit the speakerphone again and dialed the number. A nice receptionist answered and the whole room stared at me wide-eyed.
“Is Bob (the CEO) running around?” I asked.
The receptionist, without pause, said, “One moment, please.”
A few seconds later on the other end of the phone, we all hear, “This is Bob.”
I smiled at the room and went straight into the cold call. I wish I could say I landed an appointment on that call, but I did not. They were already engaged with another training company.
After we hung up the phone a huge cheer went across the room. You would’ve thought I’d won the championship game with a 90-yard touchdown pass.
The room settled and I asked the young lady who’d asked the question earlier, “Do you understand better about what I said? Motivation comes after the action.”
She nodded. “But I could never do what you just did,” she replied.
The room laughed again, and I offered for anyone else to come up and try. Nobody took me up on that offer.
Going home that night I knew I needed more ammunition if I was going to get people to understand this thought process; that motivation comes after the action.
I pulled into the farm after my hour commute and realized how tired I was. The dogs were barking their heads off making sure the whole world knew they were there. The goats were yelling at me that they were hungry, and the roosters… well, the roosters where just cock-a-doodle-doo-ing.
I let the dogs out to do their thing and then began to work on dinner. After checking on the animals and Elizabeth, my wife, who was getting home thirty minutes late, we sat down to eat. We still had to go put all the animals to bed before we could relax. So, after dinner, we fed the goats and chickens, collected the eggs and locked everyone up for the night.
The kitchen was a mess from my inability to not use every pan in the house when I cook dinner. It was now late and I damn sure wasn’t motivated to do the dishes. I really wanted to leave them for the morning.
But I walked into the kitchen and started emptying the dishwasher, then loaded it back up with dirty pots, pans, and dishes. Ten minutes later the dishes were loaded the counters were wiped off and I was dropping my clothes in the washing machine.
I was halfway through loading the washing machine when I laughed to myself. I just proved what I thought to be true. I wasn’t motivated to do the laundry but now, here I am, dishes are done, counters wiped down, dogs fed and I’m loading dirty laundry. All because I took action and started.
I took this story back to the group for the next training session and we all had a pretty good laugh. I validated my own thought by doing the damn dishes.
I looked at the young lady who’d asked the question the day prior, and she smiled and shared.
“I wasn’t motivated to make sales calls last week, but I remembered you standing in front of the room doing live calls. So, I picked up the phone and started dialing and set up four appointments and closed one deal.”
“I wasn’t motivated before but now I want to make more calls!” She said.
Motivation isn’t something you need before you start doing anything. Start doing the thing and motivation will kick in!