What Really Motivates Sales People

You hear it all the time, Sales people are “coin operated”. Sales people are motivated by money. I’ve meet managers often who look for sales people motivated by money. They say; get your sales people spending, buying those new cars, and big houses. Get them hooked, and you’ll keep them motivated. I don’t buy this and never have. I WON’T hire a money motivated sales person or manager.

Money doesn’t motivate me and I won’t hire someone is motivated by money. Money is an incentive and shouldn’t be a motivator. Anyone who is motivated by money can only go so far. Tiger Woods wouldn’t be Tiger if he is motivated by money. He has more money than he can spend in a lifetime, literally. Tiger is motivated by accomplishment, desire to the best ever, and the challenge of cementing his legacy. Successful people aren’t motivated by money.

In a recent post, I asked what motivates sales people and shared what it is about selling that motivates me. The post created a lot of discussion on LinkedIn (if you can’t see because you are not a member of this group I’m sorry, but feel free to join. I’m hoping Disqus can find a way to bring those comments in as well.) Based on the discussion my assessment is fairly accurate. It’s not money. Rewards was a common theme. I think rewards is more about recognition than money. Only two people said money, the rest talked about accomplishment. Here are a couple of comments from the discussion.

“pat on back and recognition” Raj Peesa

“Being able to accomplish a breakthrough sale and being seeing as someone who can achieve the impossible for others is my motivation. Money is nice but self-satisfaction, and peer recongnition, is the inner motivators. Of course a nice dollar bonus makes it easier to celebrate my success.”Rich Delaney

“Great article, the chance to be a fixer and enhance the customer’s life is a great thrill. When all cylinders fire, there is no better feeling!”Tom Tompson

“Thought provoking article. Often we assume that money is the great motivator, even when we know that for ourselves that is not true. For me, it’s recognition. A pat on the back, or a “job well done!” sends me back into the trenches smiling every time.”Valerie Thomison

Money motivates few people. Despite common misconceptions, sales people are not motivated by money. They, like others, are driven by accomplishment, self-actualization, challenges and recognition.

A perfect example is the introduction and proliferation of crowdsourcing which is proving that money is an incentive and not a motivator. People in many different areas give their time and knowledge for free for a chance to participate in something bigger than them, whether it be Wikkipedia, or IStockPhoto. Money incents behavior, it steers us in one direction or another however it doesn’t motivate us to keep going. Money is an incentive not a motivator.