CoachingRecruitingSales Leadership

Motivation is a daily necessity. From the moment we wake up to an alarm to ensure we’re on time, to the choice of a cold shower or a morning workout, our actions are driven by personal motivations. Each day, we make countless decisions based on what benefits us the most.

The Myth of Motivating Others

We often hear about how to motivate others, but have you ever paused to consider that true motivation can’t be externally imposed? You can’t directly motivate your children, your spouse, or your employees. What you can do is create an environment that encourages them to motivate themselves. Conversely, a toxic culture can demotivate and drive people away.

The Three Sources of Sales Motivation

A rep’s drive to meet sales targets generally stems from one of three sources: competition, money, and conscientiousness.

1. Competition

Top salespeople often exhibit a competitive streak, which can be traced back to their background in sports or other competitive activities. These individuals are driven by a desire to win, to see their names at the top of sales charts, and to gain recognition. Our research shows that about 25% of top salespeople have this competitive trait. They are always aware of their standings and are motivated by the success of others.

2. Money

The second prevalent motivator is money. These reps have a specific financial goal that drives them. For instance, a top rep from a wireless company once shared his need to make $10,000 each month to support his family. This clear financial target keeps him motivated and focused on his sales activities.

3. Conscientiousness

The third motivator, though less common among top performers, is conscientiousness. These reps are hardworking, responsible, and committed to meeting expectations set by their leaders. They may not crave recognition but find satisfaction in being part of a team and fulfilling their role. They excel when given clear expectations, proper training, and the right tools.

Recruiting Strategies for Different Motivators

Understanding these motivations is crucial when recruiting new sales reps.

For Competitive and Income-Motivated Reps

  1. Identify Competitive Traits: Look for candidates with a background in competitive activities.
  2. Financial Goals: During interviews, ask candidates about their financial goals and motivations.
  3. Recognition Systems: Implement systems that highlight and reward top performers to keep them engaged and driven.

For Conscientious Reps

  1. Clear Expectations: Provide detailed guidelines on sales processes and expectations.
  2. Ongoing Training: Ensure continuous skills development and provide the necessary tools for success.
  3. Patience and Support: Be patient with their growth and ensure your company can sustain lower initial sales as they develop.

Coaching Young Candidates

Today’s young candidates, even those with high potential, may lack a clear focus on their income needs. If they are not inherently competitive, they will benefit from coaching to understand how meeting sales goals can enhance their lives. This guidance can unlock their motivation and drive.


Recruiting the very best for your sales team means recognizing the different motivations that drive success. Tailor your recruiting process to identify these traits and provide the necessary support and environment for each type of rep to thrive.

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