One evening I came across a fascinating animal act featuring a cat trainer with a half dozen cats of varying sizes, shapes and colors. The trainer simply used a combination of treats and verbal praise to motivate his cats to perform difficult tricks. Amazingly, he got one cat to walk on his front paws, one balanced on a ball, while yet another pushed a toy baby stroller across the stage.

No actual training required

After the performance, the cat trainer was asked how he got his cats to willingly obey his commands. His response surprised me with its simple wisdom. He said he didn’t train the cats at all; he simply figured out what each cat liked to do best and then encouraged that behavior!

“People need to realize that a cat’s indifference doesn’t mean they can’t learn cool tricks,” says celebrity animal trainer Joel Silverman. “It simply means you haven’t convinced them yet that doing so is in their best interest.”

Testing the waters

  • Temperament testing is a must. Before you invest your time and energy into training, make sure you check for temperament suitability. Temperament testing allows you to identify those who by nature lack the discipline, desire or self-motivation to consistently achieve peak performance.
  • Look for “hot buttons.” Unfortunately, a compensation structure based solely on commission does not address individual motivational factors; therefore, money alone does not motivate your sales force.
  • A successful incentive program is a mixture of awards, recognition and peer pressure. There is tremendous power behind a timely word of praise or a handwritten note acknowledging achievement.
  • Take time for rest and relaxation. All work and no play makes the cat, salesperson and trainer grumpy. Whether it is playing with a ball of yarn or enjoying a round of golf, taking time to play is important. By successfully balancing play and work, you return recharged, refreshed and ready to accomplish more.

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