Dangling the carrot not working? Here’s why

By Greta Schulz

You can’t motivate anyone to do anything. People are self-motivated. They are motivated either to work hard or stay in bed. Creating an environment of motivation is often a myth. We put carrots in front of them such as additional money, recognition and the like. Why would this motivate some and not others? Because they either have self-motivation or they don’t.

So, what is a sales leader to do? To create the proper environment, there is no one size fits all solution. We need to get into the heads of our salespeople and find out what motivates each individual.  How do we do that? 

First, sit down with each salesperson. This effort is effective for all employees. Tell them you are looking for feedback to help the organization grow.  It’s important to realize that they are the frontline and see the day-to-day operations. They can give valuable feedback.

Don’t go into this with an open dialogue. To be productive, you’ll need to be prepared with questions. With each question you ask, try to dig a bit deeper to truly understand what they are saying and why. Be genuine in the interest and the feedback.

Begin with explaining the purpose of the meeting. Let them know this isn’t a performance interview. It is simply a feedback session to help the company as a whole grow as well as help you understand how to create an atmosphere for their individual optimal performance.

Here are some examples of questions you may ask:

What is the best thing about your job? The thing that you like best?

If there were one thing you could change about your job, what would that be?

What do you feel you could do individually to improve your job in the next 30 days?

You could work anywhere. What are the top three reasons you work here?

Besides meeting your goals, what would you like to achieve in the next 12 months?

What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the business and why?

If you were in my position, what would you change? What would you keep the same?

What can I do to help you be more effective?

These are suggestions , but you get the idea. The most important thing here is to understand what motivates that person, as well as their perception of the company and their individual job and contribution.

Some important things to remember:

This is a time to listen attentively. This will be a fairly uncomfortable environment to some of your people. It is for you to learn, not to judge or to defend. Once you start justifying why something is done or not done, you cripple the process and they perceive it as something different than your intent.  This will spread like wildfire and none of your employees will open up again.

When they make a comment, always ask to elaborate. Try to truly understand what they mean and why they are saying what they’ve said. They often will try to speak for the group. Bring them back to how they feel.

Give feedback on what you’ve heard and implement as best you can some of the things that you can to help motivate. If you can’t do something, meet with that person and tell them after you’ve investigated the request. See if there is an alternative.

Often, the fact that you attempted to make it happen is more than half the battle.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.