Think of wireless device sales, prospecting residential realtors, insurance agents, and many other sales roles where salespeople must make sales to new customers each and every month. In these industries, you must be fast-moving, and the transactional periods are rather short.

Now, think of account managers with territories that require managing relationships and visiting their customers according to a schedule. There are also financial planners who take the time to set up customized plans to handle the wealth of their customers over an extended period of time. The levels of certain personality traits vary between the best reps in these industries.

Over the last 30 years, we have researched the amount of predictability the following traits have on selecting  outstanding sales reps in high-activity sales positions. As a result, we know in what way and how much they contribute to specific behaviors natural to the greatest reps in the world. The traits are:

  • Deadline Motivation
  • Assertiveness
  • Recognition Drive
  • Independent Spirit
  • Analytical
  • Compassion
  • Self-promotion
  • Belief in Others
  • Optimism

Now, I know that psychometrics, while powerful and absolutely essential to recruiting, are sometimes presented in a way that’s confusing and hard to understand, much less apply. Probably because people don’t want you to be an expert. They want you to pay them to be. But, I hope to make this article scientific, practical, and exciting for you in a way that will increase your confidence and independence in selecting salespeople who can sell. As a tremendous side benefit, you’ll learn more about yourself and the children you parent or coach.

Fast-Paced vs. Even-Paced

Ever watched someone on a treadmill? Some people are obviously not pushed for time and enjoy an easy stroll at a slow rate of pace with their arms gently moving back and forth. Others pump their arms, lean forward with power, move fast, and seem to be trying to get somewhere and off the treadmill by a particular time. 

One person prefers getting to the end as fast as possible, and the other prefers a steady pace without the pressure of a deadline. That’s a great visual picture of Deadline Motivation at the high level and low level. Some people have urgency and are very fast-paced, and others are process oriented and even-paced. People genetically gravitate toward one or the other. By the way, which are you?

We have used the CTS Sales Profile for millions of salespeople, to assess the presence of this trait to determine how it affects their performance. Deadline motivation is defined as a salesperson’s drive to achieve quick results. High scorers, those who score 61% or above, are described as “racehorses” with an unquenchable “fire in the belly” and a desire to achieve immediate or near-term sales goals. They thrive in high-activity sales processes where results are expected quickly.

On the other hand, low scorers, those who score 40% or below, have a more easy-going, even-paced temperament. They enjoy a longer sales process with well-defined and planned-out steps and strategies. Low scorers spend more time educating and servicing the buyer while thinking about next steps without a sense of urgency.

Why Deadline Motivation Impacts Sales

Let’s hear what some experts have to say on the matter. According to Jeb Blount, CEO at Sales Gravy, “In sales, time kills deals. The faster you can move a deal through the pipeline, the more likely you are to close it. Salespeople who lack deadline motivation may let deals languish, missing out on opportunities to close them.”

This sentiment is echoed by sales trainer Anthony Iannarino, who says, “You can have the best product in the world, but if you can’t close the deal, it doesn’t matter. Sales is all about closing, and deadline motivation is crucial in getting deals closed quickly.”

Improving Salespeople’s Deadline Motivation

According to sales coach and author Jill Konrath, “One of the best ways to improve your deadline motivation is to set specific, measurable goals for yourself. Break down your sales process into smaller steps and set deadlines for each one. This will help keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goals.”

It’s important to note that while high deadline motivation can be beneficial in certain sales environments, it’s not the only trait that leads to success

Sales expert Brian Tracy says that, “While deadline motivation is important, it’s not the only factor in sales success. A salesperson also needs to have a deep understanding of their product or service, strong communication skills, and the ability to build relationships with customers.”

Sandler Training recommends using the CTS Sales Profile results to tailor training and coaching to each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a salesperson scores low on Deadline Motivation, their manager can work with them to create a more structured sales process that incorporates measurable goals and deadlines.

In addition, managers can use the results to identify which salespeople may be better suited for certain types of sales roles. A salesperson with high Deadline Motivation may excel in a high-pressure, fast-paced sales environment, while a salesperson with low Deadline Motivation may be better suited for a consultative sales role that requires more relationship-building and education of the buyer.


Deadline Motivation is a key trait in high-activity sales professionals in companies with closing cycles of 90 days or less. While it’s not the only factor in sales success, it can be a significant driver in achieving quick results and closing deals.

Salespeople and managers can use the information provided by the CTS Sales Profile to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and tailor their approach to improve performance for reaching their sales goals. Salespeople with high deadline motivation thrive in high-activity sales processes, while those with low deadline motivation may perform better in a more structured, educational sales environment.

By using the information provided by the CTS Sales Profile, sales managers and leaders can identify their team’s strengths and weaknesses, tailor training and coaching to individual needs, and ultimately help their sales team to achieve their goals. With the right approach and a clear focus on deadline motivation, sales professionals can excel in their roles and succeed in today’s competitive sales landscape.

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