Answer by Evan Asano, CEO & Founder: Mediakix.com on Quora.
When I was younger, motivation was never an issue. I excelled at sports and school and just enjoyed the work and processes. I was always on; I was always motivated. After college, I started in medical research, but craved something faster paced and transferred to a job in sales.
Sales was new at first, and so I was excited to learn new skills and acquire knowledge. Then I started to learn a few things about sales. Most saliently: sales people are often stigmatized and often unfavorably.
Sales people are often perceived as being shallow, money driven, overly aggressive, and not smart enough to take on other roles at the company. Unfortunately, everyone’s had an experience with a bad sales person, often through telemarketing or door to door sales. Some sales people are taught bad habits like being overly aggressive and not taking no for an answer.
Because any given contact at a company may be approached by dozens of sales people, they often categorize them all the same. So in a job in sales whether you’re selling Bic pens or Boeing jets, you can expect people to ignore you, be demanding of you and occasionally be flat out rude to you.
Most people wouldn’t survive a day in a sales job because of the sheer amount of rejection one experiences. It’s just not in people’s DNA to cope with that.
I started to feel this stigma, and every perceived rejection started to hurt a bit more. I started to classify more and more of people’s responses as rejections. If you feel that the people you interact with on a daily basis don’t respect what you do and don’t want to talk with you then you’re not going to be motivated any day. If you don’t like your job in sales, you’re going to start to hate every minute of it because 95% of what you do in sales is sell.
Read more: How do I earn respect at a toxic company?
Then at a sales meeting, one manager’s talk changed entirely how I perceived my job. He suggested that instead of selling something, we should look at it as providing value. It’s wasn’t just a transaction, but a product or service that would help the client do their job or work better. What we provided could help our clients excel. Since I worked in biotech and our clients we in drug developments firms (pharmaceuticals and biotechs), the products and services we were selling could ultimately help our clients create drugs to help people and save lives.
In an instant, my outlook changed. Selling something always felt selfish: that the primary motivation for it was in the interest of myself and the company I worked for, not the potential client. Providing value meant that my primary interest was solving my prospect’s problem and helping them. This epiphany changed every sales conversation I had after that and helps me to this day as CEO of the company I founded.
It may be easy to write off an answer about motivation from a CEO as the CEO seems like the least likely person to have issues with motivation; but that’s far from the truth. Being the CEO means that in addition to worrying about all the company’s problems, everyone’s problems becomes your problems; and that can be a heavy burden to bear. Without something to motivate me, it would be very hard to get out of bed in the morning. That thing that motivates me is building a business that provides real value to our employees and customers.
If you want to understand better how you can get motivated every single day, consider what value the work you do provides in the world and to whom. If you can create a life where what you do provides value to others and a sufficient income, then you’ve found fulfillment and the source of your motivation. If you’re not there yet, let that be the motivation that drives you: that there is something out there for you that when you find it, it will be intrinsically motivating and fulfilling.
*I won’t claim a monopoly on this realization. There’s been a trend in sales in general to position sellers more as “sales consultants” than sales people. They provide informative articles and tips and position themselves to be there when the prospects are evaluating a new product or service.