MotivationThe question I receive most often in response to this newsletter or a blog post that I’ve written is “What can I do now to be more effective in sales?” Most of the time this question is referring to what the writer needs to do to “compel their prospective customers to take action.”

Leaders send me a very similar question. They ask, “How can I get my people to do what I need them to do?”

For years, I have provided information on how you might become a better salesperson. I’ve also written a lot on how you might become a better leader. I have a list of books that I recommend to people in each of those endeavors with ideas about how they might improve. But I’ve been wrong.

The single most important area of study for a sales person or a leader is human psychology.

Your Obstacle is Invisible

The challenge that we have in influencing others is that we can’t see what’s going on their head. We can’t easily see what they are thinking. Their thoughts and beliefs live inside their mind. What compels someone else to take action is invisible to us. We often make the mistake that what would compel us is what should compel someone else, but it isn’t.

The best we can hope for when it comes to compelling others is a strategy to elicit their wants and needs, their hopes and dreams, their goals and their desires, and their fears and concerns.

Human motivation is a psychology problem.

What Do They Want?

People are motivated by what they want. In complex B2B sales, we tend to focus on “dissatisfaction.” We try to identify the gap between our prospective customer’s current results and the results we believe they need. But these are the wants or needs of the business, and while they are important, they often provide us only one piece of the puzzle.

The real motivation may not ever come up in a conversation, and it may be much more difficult to discern.

Why Do They Want It?

There are other wants or needs that people are pursuing that motivate them. These are deeper needs, and they may be subconscious.

  • Some people are motivated by the fear of loss or risk. They want or need someone to help them deal with that risk.
  • There are other people who are motivated by change. They believe there is always a better way and that it is their job to find it.
  • There are people who are motivated by their own importance. They need to be looked on favorably by their peers and they are motivated by a chance to improve their own personal standing.

The challenge with looking through the lens of only what the business needs is that it ignores the wants and needs of the people making the decision as to whether or not to take action.

How do you elicit the wants and needs of the individuals making the decision to buy or not buy what you sell?

How do you identify the deeper personal needs of the individuals to sell to so that you can speak to those needs in a way that resonates with your prospective clients?

One of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint Exupèry, wrote: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” If you pay attention to what you see in front of you, you can make visible what is invisible?

What motivates you? Comment below to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories. If you know someone who should be here with us, hit forward and point them to

Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next week.

Anthony Iannarino

P.S. We are about to start registration for the 2016 Virtual Sales Kickoff, so look for an email invitation this week. You are going to want to make sure your whole team is signed up for the January 20th event!


Contributor Anthony Lannarino is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, and consultant. He writes daily at and you can subscribe to his newsletter at