Sales Doughnuts

Why Do People Do The Things They Do?

This post is an edited transcript from The Water Cooler Hangout Podcast – Episode “Why Do People Do The Things They Do?”

The topic of today’s podcast is Why Do People Do The Things They Do? That is the big question, right? Nothing too difficult to answer. Well, years ago, I heard a speaker and author, Michael LeBeouf, at a National Speakers Association meeting speak about that very topic. He called it the greatest management principle in the world. In short, the principle is the things that get rewarded get done. I will say it again. The things that get rewarded get done.

Or, another way of saying it is we are either moving towards pleasure or away from pain. We are either moving towards rewards or away from punishment.

At the most fundamental level. There are two forces that motivate people to do what they do. The desire to avoid pain or the desire to gain pleasure. These forces also are what causes the yo-yo pattern and some people. They go back and forth between taking action to create change and then losing their drive to take any action at all. You move away from what you believe is painful and you move towards what you believe is pleasurable. Belief is particularly important and we’re going to talk about that more.

By the way, forming habits and addictions also happen through reinforcement of the same pain and pleasure cycle over and over and over. Pain by the way is a short-term motivator. You actually need pleasure for long-term motivation. To make value and behavioral changes the pleasure motivation must be engaged.

Let’s think once again about the yo-yo pattern in changing behaviors. I have asked myself this question about people I’ve seen go through gastric bypass surgery. They must eat restricted Foods. They go through a lot of pain to lose hundreds of pounds only to revert to their poor eating habits and gain back all the weight. Sometimes a lot more.

Obviously, the pleasure of eating whatever you want outweighs the physical and emotional pain of being severely overweight. Pain drives most short-term behaviors and we are more likely to move away from something then to move towards something. There is actually a good reason for that; Paleolithic humans learned to run from the danger of animals who wanted to eat them for dinner. Saving your life was more important than finding your own meal and this behavior of running from pain became hardwired into our lizard brain.

What about your own personal goals? If we want to succeed in reaching our goals, it’s helpful to know what the pain of not achieving our goals is going to be. For example, you might think you can’t run a mile, as I would have said about myself. But pain and pleasure can change things.

A few years back a friend and I were out walking on a path that goes behind our homes. It runs along a creek and some woods and we were walking down the path and I don’t know about a hundred yards up ahead, we see what looked like a cat come out of the woods and start walking up the path towards us now. You know, I’m first thinking,” Is there something wrong with the cat? Does it have rabies? What’s going on?” It kept walking towards us, and we kept walking towards him. Finally, we stopped.

The cat looked like was friendly. It walked right up to me – right to my feet and rolled over on its back and looked at me as if to say help me. We looked around and found a cardboard box on the edge of the woods. I went over and looked inside of it. There was a little food in it. Someone had scrawled a name on the outside of the box.

He had been abandoned and someone had left him there. Who knows why? He was as friendly as can be and he had been declawed so we knew we had to help him. But my home was almost a mile away and with a steep hill at the end. Carrying the cat was out of the question. I tried picking him up, but he did not like that idea at that time.

Well, he didn’t mind being picked up, but he didn’t like when I started walking away with him. So, my friend stayed there, and I took off running to get a car and a cat carrier. I went as fast as I could because I was afraid the cat might run away before I got back.

I made it and got the car and the carrier. Later, I thought I had to be out of my mind as I was not in shape to make that run. But the pain of seeing what might happen if I didn’t get back quickly enough coupled with the pleasure of knowing I was helping an animal in need, overrode common sense. The cat, by the way, became a family pet for years. We named him Walker and he was a lot of fun.

So, once again pain is a short-term motivator, but pleasure is the real solution for long-term motivation. I will say it again pain is a short-term motivator, but pleasure is the real solution for long-term motivation. Just like the gastric bypass example the pain you experience in being obese can move you towards action, but for many people the long-term pleasure of eating healthy looking good and being fit becomes outweighed by the pain of not being able to eat anything you want. And, round and round we go.

Dig more deeply into this person’s behavior and you will probably find self-beliefs that block a positive value that would change their behavior, if only they could identify the root belief. We’re going to talk about how to do that. But first let’s talk about sales and marketing – especially sales. Sales is the one business function that is most often managed by both reward and punishment.

You sell more of whatever it is you’re selling, and you get paid more. If you don’t meet your numbers, you’ll lose your job. Most companies that rely on salespeople have some kind of monthly, quarterly, and annual rewards. And while some salespeople are self-motivated, I find that the average salesperson responds to rewards.

Too many companies focus on the pain of losing your job if you don’t meet your quota or assign goals, instead of focusing on the pleasure of rewards. I found that rewards work well for motivation and sales teams. When I was a branch manager at 3M Company, I had a good-sized team of direct sales reps.

One of my favorite ways to reward them and reward short-term achievement was to let the sales reps pick their own rewards. I would give them a budget that we could spend on the reward and they would write down what they wanted. I’d have them post a photo or a drawing of their choice in a common area the office – some of the reps even got into keeping a visual progress graph. They had a good time with it.

When the time period was over, those who had reached their numbers immediately got their chosen reward. We did it in a group meeting and made sure to praise them. I vividly remember one young lady surprising me with her goal of snow tires. Winter was quickly approaching and that’s what she wanted. I would never have thought to offer snow tires as I said reward, but she got her tires and we rolled them into the meeting to present to her.

So, what about money? Isn’t that the best motivator for exceptional performance? Money is great and people might be motivated to work towards a specific economic goal, but most people want and need more than monetary compensation by itself.

Once the money has been paid and spent; it does not take long for it to be forgotten.

People also want to be recognized. They want to be appreciated. They want to know that their work is making a difference and that they are making a change for good.

Now back to where we started. Why do people do what they do? Or more specifically. Why do YOU do what YOU do? And how can you change it if you aren’t happy with your behavior?

Several years ago, I spent some time studying something called axiology. It’s a branch of philosophy that has to do with evaluating principles and values.

I learned that our personal values determine why we do what we do. I’ll say it again. I learned that our personal values determine why we do what we do. And, our values are formed by our beliefs. And where do our beliefs come from and how are they formed?

Well, most of our beliefs are created from what we can remember about past experiences both pleasurable and painful.

Remember the yo-yo syndrome if you are yo-yoing and anything in your life, you’d do well to examine your beliefs. Are they rooted in reality or is your memory faulty?

Are they your beliefs? Or are they someone else’s? And, how do you change them? Well first look deeply into yourself and ask what beliefs you have. Are they helping you or holding you back? Do they ring true for you or once again, are they do beliefs of someone else? Finally accept the ones you find to be true for you and representative of you and not others.

Change your beliefs and you can change your values. Change your values and you can change your behaviors.

Change your behaviors and your life can change.

Sales Tool Follow-Up

elephantI want to follow-up to the post of last week where I asked what you are using for a sales contact management tool or customer relationship management. I got about a dozen responses and it was surprising to see how many are using tools other than which seems to be ubiquitous these days. Apparently it is not.

Here are some of the responses starting with one about Salesforce from Jacqui.

“I think there are a host of systems that can be good, but it depends 100% on how they are implemented and how the associated processes are defined.  I love Salesforce and believe it can be an extremely effective solution that helps sales people really show their value.  BUT it all depends on the way it is set up, the processes and how they are integrated with the sales process in given company.”

I agree with Jacqui about the setting up process in a particular company. That seems to be the key factor in whether or not people use it or not.

Moving on, here are some of the other tools that people use and like.

Sean McGarry of WhatCounts like some Gmail tools. For those of you using Gmail, you might find these are excellent solutions.

“Musubi:  It’s a light weight CRM that bolts onto Gmail… I use it to set simple automated reminders for contact frequency.

Yesware –  another Gmail add on – lets you send tracked emails from within Gmail… which can be pretty useful when dealing with distant contacts.”

Elaine Spitz at Liberty packaging has used several products. Here’s her thoughts.

“I’ve used Act and found it fine, but the pipeline functions were too much guesswork (it was 2007 – it may be different now).”

“At our Liberty Packaging office Joe and I (mostly Joe) have used Maximizer for years and have just switched over to Salesforce, with the help of our tech guy, our son Greg, who is helping us to see quickly that Salesforce and Constant Contact can play nicely together (kind of a one-way street, but still….). It’s so new to us, I don’t have more feedback than that, but the decision took about two years of research and discussion, which I think is important to mention.”

Rob Plotkin of Social Work prn sent me a link to a great article, “6 Alternatives To Salesforce For Your Small Business.” He is trying out Zoho and likes it so far.

I promised to let you know what I’m using. I don’t use any of the mentioned tools. I’ve used Evernote for several years now and I love it for tracking all the sales and CRM kind of stuff along with much, much more.  Evernote is not considered a Sales Tracking or Customer Relationship product. Instead, Evernote was really designed for notetaking and archiving. Created around 2008, it has become so much more than that. It allows you to create or clip what is called a “note” that can be a full webpage, documents, photos, videos, voice memos, handwritten notes, and more. By create, I mean you can actually create a note yourself or, more often, clip something directly from the web, emails, documents, you name it and save it with title, tags, etc.

Evernote’s logo is an elephant – because an elephant never forgets and neither does Evernote. It works for me because I can create a note for each client and I can add to that note over time. I can also create other notes with tags that refer to that client.

I like to keep my sales tools simple. I’ve learned that the hard way over many years and many clients. Evernote works for me because it does what I want it to do without a lot of other integration that I just don’t need.

And, most importantly, I use Evernote. I’ve had many other tools that I stopped using after a few months because they didn’t work for me.

Good luck and let me know if you try any of these products and what you think of them.

Is There a Good Sales Contact Management Tool?

Over the 45 years I’ve been involved in sales, I’ve used all kinds of sales contact management tools for tracking, follow-up and reporting. They range from a pad of paper to some of the most sophisticated (and complicated) tech based tools of today. And, I still haven’t found that one tool that is effective, simple, and will be welcomed by most salespeople with open arms. Too many of the contact management tools of today seem to have been designed by committee. And, there were too many financial controller types on the committee, it seems to me.

Please help me and salespeople everywhere!

Tell me what you’re using and why you use it. I’d love to find a cloud based system that will give us the tools we need for tracking and reporting without weighing us down with unnecessary work that takes away from actual selling.

I’ve got something that I personally use and I’ll tell you what it is and why I use it after we start our discussion. You can answer in the comments section at the bottom of this post or send me an email if you prefer. Please put “Your Blog Request” in the subject line. Thank you!

If Someone Tweets In the Woods

Fallen Tree

Does anyone hear it? During my four months away, the number of times I tweeted something to my 2700 followers was less than a couple dozen and those were 99% fired off at politicians who annoy me and don’t follow me.

However, despite not tweeting and not reading one single tweet for four months, my number of followers kept going up almost every day. It might have been every day but I wasn’t keeping track. I just could not understand why at least 100 strangers decided to follow me. But, after reading the emails I get when someone follows, I realized that while lots of people are tweeting almost nobody is listening. Everyone is too busy telling us why they are the greatest and how we need to follow them and get their free “thing.” Not a single person who signed on to follow me during the last four months asked me anything – here it comes – not a single one of them asked me anything about me. It was all about them.

Selling is still 80% listening. If you’re spending all your social media time talking about yourself or your company, you can’t be listening. If you’re going to use Twitter then use it to ask questions and to follow what others are saying about you which will give you a chance to enter the discussion.

Show that you’re interested in the person who you’re following and not just in feathering your own nest.

Ask them questions.

Then shut up and listen.

The Buyer is Asking the Right Questions – Now What?

Reader Bernd Nurnberger posted a great comment the other day in response to this blog post. His comment was:

Yes, well put. “But can it do X?” is another question that signals readiness to buy, yet destabilizes some salespeople. When selling electronic measurement devices, I made it a point not to say anything like yes of course, but to offer proof, look it up in the catalog for the customer or if I could not find it, admit I did not know and get (at least promise) a quick answer from the technical specialist.

Which brings up the question of what do you do now that the buyer is asking questions that indicate their interest in purchasing whatever it is you’re selling? In the example of Bernd’s questions, too often technical sales people are so excited about what X can do that they not only answer that question but they vomit all over themselves telling the buyer all the wonderful things their product will do. That might sound like a good thing to do but it’s the worst thing to do if the buyer has not indicated that they have an interest in any of the wonderful things you’re telling them about.

You’ll actually turn them over and put them into snooze mode. Some of them may be offended either because they perceive you’re talking down to them (they already know all the stuff you’re spouting off) or they are offended because they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and they don’t want to seem like an idiot.

Either way you lose.

Never begin telling your buyer anything about what it is you’re selling until you have established that what you’re selling is going to address their needs, solve their problems, or answer whatever it is they are looking for. And, the only way to do that is for you to ask your questions first.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” ~Yogi Berra 

image compliments of mugley

It’s Easier to Listen Someone Into Buying

How do you know when someone is ready to buy whatever it is you’re selling? Like most things in the sales process, they’ll tell you – as long as you’re listening. Too many people fail to listen to the questions the prospect is asking and instead of recognizing them as signal that they are ready to buy; the seller just keeps on talking. Quite often they talk the prospect right out of the sale.
So, what type of questions should you be alert for? Actually, any question on the part of the buyer signals their interest. However, some of them signal stronger interest than others.


  • That ask to see something again or to explain something again
  • About what other customers think of whatever it is you are selling
  • That ask for reference availability
  • About delivery – how long would it take to get it?
  • About price, fees, anything having to do with the cost or even the financing/affordability
  • Asking for guarantees or ways to take away risk
  • About the validity of your statements, your company, or yourself. They are looking for proof that what you say is true.

If someone isn’t interested in buying what you are selling they will have very few questions. Buyers have lots of questions. That’s why I have always taught my clients that it is easier to listen someone into buying something that it is to sell them something.

“It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.” ~Dick Cavett 

Nothing Happens Until…

I never had a bad opinion of selling. I grew up with a mother who sold shoes for over 50 years so selling to me was something good and honorable. It allowed you to help others while also earning money. And, when I realized that your income was dependent upon how much you sold and not on how much an hour someone wanted to pay me, I was even more sold on selling. Selling may or may not be the oldest profession but it is certainly one of the oldest that still exists today.

Josiah Wedgewood, of the Wedgewood China family, came up with ideas to sell more of their expensive Wedgewood China in the mid-1700’s. And, while he is credited with being a genius marketer, I believe he looked upon selling as an intellectual pleasure and an art form. He was selling.

“Nothing happens in business until someone sells something.” Supposedly that statement appeared in Parade Magazine in 1930 and was coined by Arthur “Red” Motley. And, until after WWII most corporations lived and died by that motto. But, post WWII, marketing and advertising became part of the business school regimen and sales became something you did if you couldn’t get into business school. People turned up their nose at selling and hundreds of thousands of college graduates became marketers. Well, that’s what they majored in but most of them found employment in other areas that had nothing to do with marketing. A lucky few tried sales and learned that’s where the action and the financial rewards are in marketing.

Many small business owners have either lost sight of or never understood the paramount importance of selling. They fixate on marketing and I find that most often it is because they themselves never learned how to sell. They don’t know how to do it themselves and they find it extremely difficult to manage the best salespeople who most often are independent. Most exceptional salespeople will follow a good leader but bristle at being “managed.”

Selling still creates businesses, wealth, and jobs. Without salespeople and selling you would not have a job. And, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a job, may I suggest you set your sights on a position in sales, read all the books you can by the masters in the field, and start by selling yourself to someone who will give you an opportunity to prove yourself as a salesperson. If you will do that, you be on your way in a career that will always provide you with an income and sense of accomplishment no matter what is going on in the economy.

Technology and the use of social media have made selling easier than ever. You can find out more about your prospects in seconds that would take me a day in the library only 25 years ago. But don’t rely on technology to replace personal, face-to-face, selling. Use technology to augment and enhance selling but always remember you still have to ask your prospects the right questions and listen to the answers.

I went from being a professional photographer to setting sales records for a Fortune 100 company and I did it in one year. And, I continued to do it year-after-year-after-year. There’s an old saying in professional photography. It goes like this.

Question:  Do you know how to make a small fortune in professional photography?
Answer:  Start with a large one.

Photographers are not usually known for their sales skills. If a photographer (me) can do it, you can do it too.

Today is my birthday. Thank you for letting me share it with you. My birthday wish for you is that you are as fortunate as Josiah Wedgewood and myself and that you are able to spend your working hours engaged in something that is both an intellectual pleasure and your you own form of art. Thank you for listening. 

Feedback – Breakfast of Champions

The sales people that hire me as a coach and consultant succeed before they even show up for our first session. Why? They’ve realized they need outside feedback from someone who can spot what they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right and give them the kind of feedback they need to improve. Every pro team, every Olympic athlete, every elite performer in every field in the world shares one common tool for success — they have a coach who gives them daily feedback.

If your company has a successful sales force, then you have a successful sales manager, one who knows his team and knows how to give feedback. If your sales team has a high turnover rate, poor sales records and low motivation chances are they’re not getting the feedback they need. If you don’t know what you’re doing right and you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, you can’t consistently succeed. If you don’t have a coach or a mentor, get one, even if you have to hire one. Good feedback will do more to help launch your success than even doubling your sales calls for a month.

“If you don’t know how successful you are, two things happen: One, you don’t get any better, and two, you stop caring.” ~Steve Kerr

image compliments of Jeroen020

Deliberate Awareness


Whether you like sports or not, you’ve got to know that successful athletes have great stories about the stuff they overcame to get to the top. One of my all-time favorite stories is still the one about Michael Jordan. After practice he would stay and shoot another 200 baskets, every practice. Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, even chess phenom Bobby Fischer all did the same thing (not shoot baskets). They practiced. It wasn’t just practice—it was deliberate practice. They didn’t just shoot a basket, make a pass, hit a ball, and play another game of chess to rack up their hours. They studied the results. Why had that shot missed? Why did they lose that game, or shank that drive? It’s not just repetition that changes us and improves our sales ability. It’s a deliberate and practiced awareness and study of why something didn’t work, or why it did.  Persistence pays off, but smart, aware and studied persistence pays better.

“When you are not practicing, remember that somewhere, someone is, and when you met him, he will win.”  ~Ed Macaulay

image compliments of khairilfz

In a Bad Economy, Price is NOT the Most Important Thing

In a bad economy the assumption too many sales people make is in believing that price is the most important thing to a customer. Even if they say it is, it’s not. People may say they’re watching their money, but what they mean is they’re keeping an eye on the value. If you don’t believe me, next time someone in the grocery store line hands the clerk a fistful of coupons and their $200 grocery bill drops to $48 dollars and change, ask them why they use coupons. They’ll look at you like you’re a knucklehead, because it’s “so obvious.” Only it’s not. “To save money,” is what they’ll tell you. But if you push them a little harder you’ll see they’re really keeping an eye on the value. That coupon is valuable because it allows them to get more for their money.

When you’re selling whatever it is you sell, you don’t have to give your customers a coupon, but you do have to convince them they’re able to get more for their money when they spend it with you. That doesn’t mean comparing prices. It means comparing what you can do for a customer compared with what a competitor can do. Don’t limit yourself by thinking of tangibles. Maybe you and your competitor both sell lawn mowers. What happens when you include free oil changes, or a free weekend workshop on winterizing your lawnmower with every purchase? Partner with a seed company and see if they’ll honor a 10% off seeds coupon with every lawn mower sold, and vice versa. When you can do or offer more value, be it customer service, knowledge, help or coupons, that’s where people will shop.

image compliments of Rollofunk

“Don’t sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do.” ~Ben Feldman

Here is some added value for you. Don’t know Ben Feldman, take time to read this story.


Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types