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[SDS] Inside the Actor's Studio

[SDS] Inside the Actor's Studio

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
3 min read

[Reading time: 2m 23s]

“What’s my motivation?”

Surely you’ve seen a parody about actors where this comes up.

It goes like this. An actor is flailing in his role and underperforming. Unwilling to accept that it’s his own fault, he turns to the director and asks..,

“What’s my motivation?”

It’s funny to us because it suggests that actors are clueless, talentless pretenders. But let’s examine the question for a second. What is motivation?

Well, it’s the basis for your sales program. If you want to get serious about selling then you need to know what your motivation is.

Motivation has four basic parts:

  • Drive: the literal “motive,” a psychological or physical drive that influences our behavior
  • Stimulus: the external thing that tells us it’s time to activate the drive; in this case, a lead or opportunity
  • Accomplishment: successfully satisfying the drive
  • Satisfaction: that wonderful feeling that comes with success

Motivation underlies your sales program, and drive underlies your motivation. Your drive could be you-focused, like “build a business that provides for my family.” It could be other-focused, like “help 100M people change the way they sell.” But whatever it is, it had better be deeply motivating.

The reason that drive is the basis of your sales program is that motivation won’t often be replenished with accomplishment and satisfaction.

You can’t win ’em all. And if you are winning every deal that comes your way, you’re not being choosy enough, or you’re not marketing enough. Probably both.

Which puts us in the position of intentionally facing rejection and disappointment. We know that the motivation cycle will be broken, and replenishment must come not from accomplishment or satisfaction, but from within. That’s part of the process.

So your drive had better be strong to stay motivated. What might your drive be? It’s up to you, but it’s a question you must answer.

Personally, I want to help droves of people succeed. That’s what motivates me to write this newsletter, and record my podcast, and continue to find new and interesting ways to serve you every day.

When I work directly with clients, my drive is simple: I want to help people doing important work do more of it for their clients. If that sounds like a mission as much as a motivation, you’re right. It is.

And underlying it all is a deep drive to help people be better people. That’s my secret agenda.

Your drive doesn’t have to be as grandiose as mine. Yours may be something like “help clients build world-class experiences,” or “keep clients compliant with regulations so they can focus on their business,” or “make products that people love to use,” or whatever applies to you.

Establish your motivation, write it down, and refer to it regularly. It’s the fuel that keep you going in good times and in bad.

One thing I left out is that your motivation cycle may continue if your goal is to learn instead of merely winning new business. If your goal is to win, then you know some percentage of the time – 50% or more, usually – you’ll be disappointed.


You can learn as much from your wins as your losses. If you continue to learn, then you’ve accomplished something, and can receive the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.

It keeps the cycle going.

Question for you today:

What’s your motivation for selling?