You can buy your sales people hands and feet but not their hearts. You cannot demand the
hearts. Without the heart the best sales person will give you is 20% of their potential. It is
therfore important that you master the art of getting your sales people to surrender their
hearts to you.
Paul Herr, a scientist and consultant specializing in employee engagement assert that it
feelings and emotions inhabit the very core of economic decision making. In his book, Primal
Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance
AMACOM, 2009), Herr explains that the best way to motivate your sales team is to align with
human nature. This means aligning with the motivational mechanism with the social appetites
that power it.
These social appetites are so crucial for human survival that they are regulated by feelings of
pleasure and pain. Each of the appetittes can be captured by simple mantra that you can
imagine your sales people utter under their breathe.
i. The Cooperation Appetite- I want to belong to a tribe;
ii. The Competency Appetite- Treat me like an expert
iii. The Skill Deployment Appetite- I will do my best to shine but if I don’t be fair with your
iv. The Innovation Appetite- Am neither the strongest or the fastest please let me innovate
v. The Self-Protection Appetite – Bribes and Threats are not better than boosting my self
As you seek to motivate your sales team consider how well you feed each of these appetites
and what else you can do to satisfy them.
- The Cooperation Appetite
This is the most important social appetite in the motivational mechanism, says Herr. It holds
groups together and must be in place before the other social appetites can be ignited.
Humans naturally want to bond together and cooperate on a common goal. Workplaces that
encourage this, promoting commitment and investment, can achieve “something miraculous:
a united tribe in which each person is psychologically bonded to the group and one another,”
The opposite of this is a hierarchical workplace dominated by fear where “warring clans”
battle one another for resources.
- The Competency Appetite
Humans are skill-based creatures. When we master the survival skills of our tribe, we
experience pleasant feelings of high self-esteem.
Companies that tap into this “vital form of emotional currency will have happier and more
productive employees because employees will receive a much larger emotional paycheck at
the end of the day,” says Herr.
To feed this appetite, managers should encourage their team to master skills and treat their
people like experts.
- The Skill Deployment Appetite
Nature rewards us not only for mastering a skill, but also for deploying it again and again.
When we deploy a skill successfully, we get a brief, euphoric high, says Herr. “If your
workplace seems lethargic, then perhaps your tribe isn’t being stimulated enough,” he
Make sure your workplace is challenging but fair, that you’ve established clearly defined
performance standards tailored to each individual, and that you give specific, genuine praise
when your employees deploy their skills successfully.
- The Innovation Appetite
Humans are intrinsically slow and weak compared to other animals, which is why we love to
“Creative employees crave the pleasures emanating from the innovation appetite and will not
stay around long if they don’t get them,” warns Herr. The simplest way to get your employees
to innovate is to tell them it’s okay to do so, he adds.
Employees who truly care about the success of their company and are given the freedom to
experiment and explore will be overflowing with innovative ideas. Treat these ideas properly
and this appetite will be well fed.
- The Self-Protection Appetite
As its name suggests, this appetite is designed to keep us safe. This is the appetite that
dispassionate, hierarchical companies rely on most, motivating their employees with a
simplistic carrot (money) and stick (fear) approach. “This approach is outmoded, harmful, and
creates companies that sputter instead of roar,” says Herr.
There’s a better way.
Instead of threatening employees, great leaders build their employees up. They trust their
employees and treat them as equals. “They treat every employee interaction as an
opportunity to boost employee confidence and self-esteem and thereby add value to the
feeling-based economy,” says Herr.
On a final note, it’s important to restate that these appetites are as real and ever present as
biological appetites, such as hunger and breathing and energy management. Ignoring them or
dismissing them won’t make them go away, but it might make your employees decide to leave
if any of their appetites aren’t being fed.
“Companies that align with human nature by feeding these vital appetites will harvest more
motivational energy than those that don’t,” concludes Herr. “It’s as simple as that”.
Sam Kariuki is the author of the Guy Who Fired His Boss and highly respected Sales
Strategist at Growth Partners, a sales performance improvement consultancy firm based in
Nairobi, Kenya www.growthpartners.co.ke