The Personal SPIFF

Posted on by in Mike's Morning Missives

When I first spotted this heading in an article about personal motivation, I was perplexed in not knowing what the letters SPIFF stood for. I read the article twice before realizing that they did not stand for anything. They simply spelled the word spiff.

Although not defined in the online dictionary I knew (I thought I knew) that the word referred to something nice, something akin to a reward. The article then made sense to me.

I think there is a primary and secondary message to my findings. The secondary message reminds us that it is neither wise nor prudent to use trade-friendly jargon or letters when speaking to your prospects and clients.  You may be certain that everybody who has been in the business more than two weeks knows what all the acronyms stand for, but this simply is not the case.

When using shortcuts or acronyms you flirt with coming across as a pompous know-it-all. No matter how you slice it, this is not a good reputation to have. When in doubt, define the terms you use and be certain that you are communicating with your audience clearly and succinctly.

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The big message I want to share with you is what I have been calling “My Spinnaker Story” for over 35 years.

I won’t bore with the specifics of The Spinnaker Story but I will say that a spinnaker is the down-wind billowing third sale seldom found on a sailboat. When I first entered the business, that is what I wanted for my boat. That is what motivated me to work above and beyond the call of duty. The spinnaker represented my soon-to-be trophy.

I tell you this because that is what “The SPIFF” article was alluding to.  The author suggested, and rightly so, that people (employees) are motivated by their own personal “spiffs.” The promise of a day off, an office with a window, a cruise to Bermuda for two or the use of the company gas card does not do the trick as a rule. What motivates you is what motivates you.

Your job as the owner, manager or head honcho is to dig into the minds of your workers to find out what their personal “spiff” is. Then, in a clear, unwavering believe-me-when-I-tell-you verbal declaration, you remind your employee that if that is what they want, that is precisely what they are going to get … if they accomplish the required tasks.

I learned log ago that I did not have the ability or skill to motivate anybody. My job was to find their hot buttons and keep on banging on it.


Mike MarchevMike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive a complimentary invitation send Mike an email with the phrase “AmaWaterways” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.

For information on Mike’s 6-Week Online Selling Course, email Mike at mike@mikemarchev.com with the words “sales course” in the subject box.

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