Every day we help sales managers in large companies, small businesses, and agency owners understand the predictability that the following traits have in selecting an outstanding sales rep. Last week, we thought about the impact of the trait Deadline Motivation—the urgency to get things done fast and how that trait helps with closing sales in fast sales cycles and increases sales performance for products and services that are sold each month to new customers. In this article, we will consider the impact of recognition or social drive at home and in sales.

Those of you who have children will understand when I say that kids are different – especially when it comes to being recognized or interacting socially with other children. My grandson Liam is very smart. He’s also wary and guarded when it comes to new people entering his space.

My son told me a story about Liam that helps us understand what it means to be driven to be social with others and to be the center of a crowd, even a crowd of strangers, and enjoy being there. It excites Liam to be outside and to explore and to leave his home for a time of discovery. But when he’s at the playground and other kids are there, Liam stays on the perimeter, just out of their reach and influence. He likes to be there, but he likes to be away from them at a distance. The kids who are social run right into the thick of things—not Liam, he patrols the perimeter.

Defining Recognition Drive

According to the CTS Sales Profile, recognition drive is “the salesperson’s motivation to join organizations and attend functions that provide new sales opportunities (leads and prospects).

High Scorers are socially outgoing and thoroughly enjoy being the center of attention (public recognition). They are motivated by their need for status and prestige. Low Scorers prefer one-on-one relationships, private recognition, and are not motivated to attend social functions. They prefer networking with a select few and are more motivated by ‘respect’ than ‘popularity’.”

When asked questions in the assessment, people will choose answers that show they prefer to be socially outgoing or one-on-one relationships.

How Recognition Drive Impacts Sales Performance

Studies have shown that a high recognition drive can lead to higher sales performance. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management found that “salespeople high in social drive (recognition drive) were more likely to generate leads and close sales than those low in social drive.” 

Think of prospecting and whether or not your position requires people to generate their own leads and appointments. This makes sense when you think about it. Sales is a people-driven profession. Building relationships and networking are key components of the job.

Sales professionals who are socially outgoing and enjoy being the center of attention are more likely to excel in these areas. They are comfortable approaching new people and striking up conversations, which can lead to new leads and sales opportunities. This may or may not be important in certain types of sales, like retail, where new customers are coming through the door and prospecting for new business is not a required skill.

But it’s not just about being outgoing and social. High recognition drive often correlates with a desire for status and prestige. Sales professionals with a high recognition drive are motivated by the prospect of achieving public recognition for their sales achievements. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as being recognized as a top-performing salesperson within their company or industry, or even receiving awards or accolades. 

Many salespeople with a high recognition drive love to be praised in front of others, and the desire for recognition can be a powerful motivator. As one sales professional put it, “I love the feeling of accomplishment when I close a big deal or hit my sales targets. But what really motivates me is the idea of being on a stage and being recognized by my peers for my hard work and achievements. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with being a top performer.” 

The Downsides of Recognition Drive

Sales professionals with a high recognition drive may be more prone to seeking out recognition at the expense of other reps or other important aspects of their job, such as building strong client relationships or focusing on long-term sales goals. 

They may also be more susceptible to burnout, as the constant drive for recognition can be emotionally exhausting. And, if they become sales leaders, they may look for their own recognition instead of giving it to their reps.

On the other hand, sales professionals with a low recognition drive may struggle to build their network and generate new leads. They may not enjoy attending social functions or joining organizations, which can limit their exposure to potential sales opportunities. However, they may excel in one-on-one situations, where they can focus on building strong, personal relationships with their clients.

How Companies Can Leverage recognition Drive

So, what can companies do to leverage the strengths of sales professionals with a high recognition drive, while avoiding the potential downsides? One approach is to provide regular recognition and rewards for top performers. This can help motivate sales professionals with a high recognition drive to continue to strive for excellence, while also reinforcing the importance of other key aspects of the job, such as building strong client relationships.

On the other hand, sales managers should remember to give private one-on-one praise to those reps with a lower recognition drive who may feel uncomfortable under the social spotlight. They may be more like Liam, and prefer the social perimeter, but still enjoy the interaction with you and your private encouragement and relationship.

Another approach is to provide training and support to help sales professionals with low recognition drive build their networking and social skills. This can include workshops on effective networking strategies, or opportunities for mentorship or coaching from more socially outgoing colleagues.

Industries Where High and Low Recognition Drives Shine

High recognition or social drive could be beneficial in sales roles in industries such as technology, software, and digital marketing, where networking and attending events can lead to valuable connections and leads. In these industries, sales professionals with a high recognition drive could leverage their outgoing personalities to build a large network and generate new business opportunities.

On the other hand, sales roles in industries such as healthcare, finance, engineering, and legal services may benefit more from a lower recognition drive. In these industries, clients often prefer to work with sales professionals who prioritize the right technical solutions and building trust and long-term relationships rather than seeking public recognition. Sales professionals with a lower recognition drive may be better suited to these industries because they focus more on private recognition and building trust with their clients.

However, it’s important to note that these are generalizations, and the ideal level of recognition drive can vary depending on the individual and the specific sales role. Ultimately, what matters most is the ability to understand and connect with clients, build strong relationships, and drive sales growth.

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