What Motivates You? Fear or Opportunity?

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On a recent family trip, Mrs. J uttered the phrase that sends shivers down the spine of kids worldwide:“Santa is watching.” You could see the fear of lost presents written all over our boys’ faces. Their behaviour improved as quick as a flash. As a motivator, not much surpasses it, I just didn’t expect to hear it so far away from December!

But it got me thinking about what motivates us all. Is the fear of loss stronger than the desire to gain?

Based on the way standard salaries, incentives, and pitches are structured in sales you can assume the desire to gain is more powerful. However, various studies have shown that the pain of losing money outweighs the delight of finding some and that people respond or perform better when faced with losing a reward versus gaining one. And the reaction of my offspring clearly confirms that the fear of loss is far more influential. Even in the world of sport, athletes often speak of how defeat can make them feel physically sick.

Returning to the world of work, perhaps some of the “traditional” ways to motivate recruiters and the ones in sales, need tweaking. As an example, incentives, like winning a spot to a desirable location abroad, could perhaps turn into losing the trip as a threat, using the fear of loss to their benefit. When pitching to clients, instead of the focus on what they can gain, perhaps focus on losing or in other words missing out, by not having your product or services.

It’s clear that motivation is a huge topic and in a business setting, the most successful companies tend to be those that are best able to motivate their staff and customers. With lots of opinions and theories, it appears there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Personally, I’m buying into the ‘fear of loss’, so I might remind my kids that Santa is watching again before December.

Our sales team is full of amazing knowledge, so why not have a look at advice on how to clean your cluttered database, or 3 business tips learnt from The Godfather?

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