Direct Sales Leadership: What Motivates You?

When coaching with my direct sales clients, one of the first things that always seems to come up is a discussion about recruiting. Most direct sales professionals understand that if they want to earn a comfortable six-figure income (or more), leadership is a necessary component to build a strong book of business.
A lot goes into being a direct sales leader. Whether you’re a leader of one or one hundred thousand. I’ve written previously about retention strategies, leading by example, and other qualities that a direct sales leader needs in order to successfully navigate being a leader. This series of articles serves as a starting point for more of the mindset issues that leaders face when trying to lead by example.
Only You Can Motivate You
Motivation is a curious thing. No one else can motivate you, they can only inspire you to take action. Motivation (the latin root means to move) is about movement and action. No one else can take action for you. You must take action, therefore, you must motivate yourself.
In direct sales, we talk extensively about a person’s “why” – the reason they joined the business, or more to the point, the surface-level reason that they stay in the business. To be frank, a “why” will rarely, if ever, sufficiently motivate a direct sales consultant to keep working when times are tough.
As a leader, you must identify the “what” of your team. Once you’ve ascertained a consultant’s “why”, you need to dig deeper. It means sometimes hitting an emotional hot spot, and could even result in a few tears. If you’re a leader working from a place of compassion, that’s perfectly fine. The objective is to discover “what” really motivates them to stay engaged in the business.

Here’s what I mean: A consultant may tell you that they joined the business because they want to be able to pay for their children’s college education. That’s a great “why”, but there’s a deeper reason here. Perhaps, upon further investigation, you discover that paying for their children’s college education is important to them because they weren’t able to go to school themselves, and they see a college education as a symbol of freedom from financial bondage and hope for a better life for their children. So their “what” is really freedom from financial bondage and hope for a better life for their children.

It takes time and you must build relationships with your team in order to dig this deep. It’s rare that a person will be able to bridge this kind of emotional gap on a first encounter, although it’s possible. You must demonstrate compassion and be a trusted source before someone will share their “what” with you. That’s logical, though, because it’s hard to share what sometimes may hurt.

And who’s the best consultant on your team with which to practice this new skill? You.

Get clear on your “what” before you ever approach your team. Knowing what motivates you makes it easier to share and connect with your team – especially when times are tough. It’s up to you to take the necessary actions to move your business forward. If you’re leading by example, you’ll need to know what really motivates you before you can ever inspire your team to get motivated themselves.

© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young.



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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales coaching and training to direct sales professionals looking to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at


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