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Sales Development, Sales Process

It Is Not The Money

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design


Growing up I was indoctrinated that the slightest look at a girl would for sure lead to an ill-timed pregnancy. And being the youngest of eight there was clear evidence of that being true. So when Maureen and I tried to start our family we had no reason to believe there was going to be a challenge.

Why A Baby Is Called A Gift

Soon I learned that bringing a baby into this world is called “a gift” for a reason. The biological clock had started ticking and it felt like we embarked on a race against time. With each month the pressure mounted, soon the months turned into years. The situation did not improve by seemingly everyone around us popping out babies. I don’t know exactly when, but after a few years we kinda gave up.

The Stick

Fast forward to the fall of 2002; It is about 4am in the morning and I am preparing to jump in a cab to head for SFO to make the 5.40am flight to Denver.

It Is Not The Money
The flight I subscribed to for almost 7 years of my life (rent car + drive to Cheyenne = arrive at lunch)

I had scheduled a meeting with the executive team at a large Subscription TV provider in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Right before I head-out I knock on the bathroom door to give Maureen one last hug. As the door swings open I notice the tears in her eyes … she holds up “the stick.” This magical thingie tells us, after years of trying we finally are going to have a baby!

UI of pregnancy
Today the UI of pregnancy test is clear — it wasn’t this easy to understand 15 years ago

Why Is The Cab Driver Honking?

We were so excited … I even heard the cab driver outside joining us in celebration by honking.. huh how did he know? Shoot he was honking for me to hurry up. It’s time to go! Wait… WHAT!?? Yes you read it right, right as Maureen and I hugged, cried, and laughed in joy, after years of trying I still found myself grabbing my bag to head for the airport to visit my customer. Why?

The Satellite Is Going to Launch Either Way!

Call it what you want; responsibility, accountability, duty, even stupidity. I don’t know what motivated me to still want to make that flight. But I do know this: It wasn’t the frigging money! The meeting would have occurred with or without me, the deal would have happened regardless, because that satellite was going to launch into space either way.

So what was it that motivated me?

Satellite Uplink Station in Cheyenne Wyoming
Satellite Uplink Station in Cheyenne Wyoming (I miss it!)

Helping People. Solving Problems. Be Recognized.

Over the years I was privileged to learn from superstars such as Mike D’Amore, John Scaggs, John Green, Chris Powers, and Tina Eckman. It taught me that they are motivated by solving complicated problems, helping people, and they love the recognition that comes associated with this. Decades of US sales history have drilled into organizations that such recognition can only be realized through money. This is simply not true. Daniel Pink wrote about this in his book: Drive-The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Strong winds tip-over trucks frequently on highway 25 on the way to Cheyenne

The Price For Missing Graduation

Thousands of sales professionals every day decide to leave the safety and comfort of their home to meet a customer, to attend an industry event, or to participate in a sales kick-off. While they are on the road, their partner has to apologize for their absence in the Parent Teacher meeting.

Later on when sales management tries to motivate these professionals with money — they experience this as “never seemed to make enough.” The problem is management tries to compensate them for a deal won… where as the sales performer sees it as the compensation for missing their kids graduation, or worse a divorce. Such a misunderstanding on how to compensate top performers is happening all the time.

Presidents Club Caribbean
Google image search: Presidents Club Caribbean

Queue: The President’s Club

A clear example is the Presidents Club — An annual retreat reserved for a company’s top performers with a week in the Caribbean in an exclusive hotel: Employees only.

This may seem to be no problem yet it wreaks havoc every year! Why? You are rewarding people by pulling them away one more week from their families, putting them in a tropical environment, where the only thing to do is __________ (insert vice).

Consider this instead: Reward the family with a weekend trip to a regional hotel (think driving distance) and a dinner in a family friendly restaurant.

Rewards such as a Presidents club should have an option to include the partner. Better yet the family!

Silent Majority: It Is Okay To Not Do It For The Money

At first I too was made to believe that sales was all about the money, and I often felt that something must be wrong with me, because I am not motivated “that way”.

However these days I am in the fortunate position to meet and coach hundreds if not thousands of sales professionals. And I’ve noticed that for every money hungry sales wolf there are 10+ sales pro’s that have other motivations and they are performing equally well. I hope to give a voice to this silent majority that says “It is okay to not be motivated by money.”

Actually Maslow memorialized this long ago in the Hierarchy of Needs. Try to find family, recognition and problem solving.

Pyramid of Maslow
Pyramid of Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs (Wikipedia)

What Motivates You as a Sales Person?

Perhaps if you got this far into the story…. maybe just maybe I can get you to take one more step and share what motivates you as a sales professional?What makes you sit, last row, center seat, on a late Friday delayed bumpy flight home? Is it the money? Or is it the excitement of achieving something else…

Happy Ending

Following years of extensive travel around the world I am happy to report that Maureen and I have been blessed with two incredible kids. Also this year we will be celebrating our 30 year anniversary. And we recently added a new girl, Yoshi who welcomes us with an incredible enthusiasm every day… and I am happy to share with you that none of this is the result of a financial incentive plan.

The results 10+ years later Nikki, Yoshi, Maureen, myself, and Luke.
The results 10+ years later Nikki, Yoshi, Maureen, myself, and Luke.