Motivation or Discipline: What Matters More in Sales?

One of the most talked-about topics in mortgage banking is how managers can motivate employees to improve sales results. This perennial issue comes up often in executive meetings and is frequently on the agenda at annual sales rallies.

At these events, motivational speakers typically recount their rags-to-riches stories in hopes of inspiring sales professionals to follow a similar path to success. Unfortunately, no matter how engaging and emotionally charged these presentations are, they have little impact on sales results.

So, why is motivation not enough to help originators hit their goals? The simple reason is that motivation is fleeting, but discipline is what makes the difference in achieving personal and professional goals.

This doesn’t mean that motivation isn’t important in helping someone focus on their goals. Certainly, it can kick-start a change in behavior. But as we all know, there are times when the motivation just isn’t there. Similar to adopting lifestyle changes such as eating healthier or exercising, we are not always motivated to do things that can deny us pleasure. It takes discipline to stay the course. The same can be said about originators and prospecting.

The Pain of Prospecting

Prospecting to generate new business and replace referral sources who are no longer sending clients their way is mandatory for originators to achieve long-term success. However, rejection during the process can be painful for even the most experienced producers.

Of course, originators understand that as markets change, referral sources retire or move on. This is the reality for any sales professional. But, overwhelming refinance volume in the last few years has masked prospecting issues.

As the pendulum swings back toward a purchase money environment, an originator’s failure to prospect becomes glaringly obvious. Producers who don’t have the discipline to risk rejection and reach out to potential clients and referral sources will become irrelevant fast!

What is Discipline?

So, what exactly is discipline in the context of mortgage banking? According to legendary sales author Jim Rohn, discipline is an action step that serves as “the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”

Motivation is a relatively short-term boost of momentum that can disappear quickly. On the other hand, discipline is a pattern of behavior that fuels productivity over time and is what enables originators to reach their prospecting goals.

The Keys to Developing Self-Discipline

The good news is that self-discipline is not an innate trait or characteristic. It’s a learned behavior which means every salesperson has the capacity to develop it.

In a great book, “Embrace the Suck: The Navy Seal Way to an Extraordinary Life,” author Brent Gleeson discussed the steps to developing self-discipline. They include:

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Remove your temptations
  • Set clear goals
  • Practice new behaviors daily
  • Establish new habits
  • Find trusted coaches who will deliver the hard news to you

As we wrap up 2021, it is time for originators to review their sales activities and make any necessary changes to their selling models. The first step is to adopt a disciplined approach to prospecting.