Skip to content

Motivation for PEOPLE not Mules

Here is an idea; Ditch methodology designed for mules and start motivating your team as PEOPLE.
The traditional carrot vs. stick metaphor comes from urging a mule to move forward by hanging a carrot in front of it while having a stick to hit it if that doesn’t work. While you may think inside salespeople can behave like mules, my recommendation is to NOT treat them that way.
Here is the difficult part, to quote “There is no single motivation theory that explains all aspects of human motivation.” This really shouldn’t surprise anyone since everyone on your team is a unique person, with different goals, drives, etc.
This brings us to David McClelland, and his theory that there are three things people need:

  1. Achievement: defined as the desire to solve problems and achieve goals.
  2. Affiliation: looking at someone’s desire for relationships and reputation, rather than the task itself.
  3. Power: is a desire to be in control of people and events.

One of the reasons I’m drawn to McClelland’s Achievement Need Theory is because it takes into account that both culture and experiences mold what motivates us. This means you can look specifically at how to use each of the three aspects with the unique culture of your organization and the inside salespeople working within it.

On the surface, David McClelland’s Need for Achievement seems perfectly tailored for inside salespeople.

I agree!

I do want to ask you a question: Have you defined what a standard of excellence looks like in your organization?

Here is the thing about people with the need for achievement… they also have a strong desire for performance feedback. This means they need to know how excellence is measured. I’d add that also means they must buy into your (and your organization’s) definition of what excellence looks like.

Here are my top tips for motivating someone through achievement:

  • Share your vision, this will help transform it into a shared vision. Getting their buy into the mission you’re working toward.
  • Make sure they know their goal AND how it helps meet the overall objective.
  • Have them work on the plan that will get them there, and help them make sure they can achieve what they’ve set their mind to.
  • Remember their feelings of competition regarding being measured against your standard of excellence, not necessarily beating a person.

I’m going to recommend you think about the people pleasers on your team. 

How can you motivate people who tend to conform to the wishes of friends, companions, coworkers (etc) they value MORE than the task at hand?

Here are a few keys to using the Affiliation Motivator for Inside Sales Success:

  • Figure out a way to have the people on your team with this desire to work in a group.
  • Focus on collaboration instead of competition.
  • Help them map out what they have in common with your prospects.
  • Define success as customers getting what they need.

Think of people vs. process and you’re on your way to successfully motivating people who value the feelings of others above all else. Lift them up so they can view their own successes.

“The need for power is concerned with making an impact on others, the desire to influence others, the urge to change people, and the desire to make a difference in life. People with a high need for power are people who like to be in control of people and events.”
from an article shared by DK Sinha on McClelland

When I read the above excerpt, I thought – now that sounds like a motivation definition for Inside Salespeople.

Then I remembered it’s only one of the three motivations McClelland talks about – Power may or may not be what motivates someone on your team.

When it is you can be sure:

  • they’ll love to influence and direct prospects and customers.
  • they’ll have a desire to help people change: how they think, do business, what vendor they choose.
  • they want to be in control of their own destiny.
  • are looking to create a long-term relationship of influence.

It may sound easy because I’m going to go out on a limb and say as their leader those are the things that drive you. This means the key will be to take YOU out of the equation and use their own power to motivate THEM.
Having three ways to motivate your team is fantastic!
It does mean you need to find out more about what motivates the individuals on your team –  use it to your advantage (and theirs).
Encouraging you to dive deeper,
ps: for more, you can read one of the many books David McClelland has authored/coauthored or this article McClelland’s Need for Achievement Theory, AND that article shared by DK Sinha on McClelland’s Need for Achievement Theory

Back To Top