Before I got married, the most consistent piece of advice for me and my fiancée was, “You must have trust”. Nobody told me how to get trust – only that I had to have it. They didn’t tell me why I needed trust – only that it was necessary to build a successful marriage.

Sales leaders say the same about motivation. To be successful in sales, motivation (just like trust in a marriage) must be present. However, motivation (and how to acquire it) means different things to different people. For some sales leaders it means a lack of follow-up and follow-thru by a salesperson in the sales process. For others, it means not consistently prospecting. To some, it may mean a salesperson not developing knowledge about the new products and services to sell.

There are a few points that I’ve found to be consistent about this concept of motivation.

Motivation is something:

- you desperately want in a sales candidate
- you wish all your salespeople had
- many salespeople do not have
- that significantly affects a salespersons performance if they don’t have it

Regardless of the meaning of the term motivation, it’s used a lot – typically when your salespeople don’t have it.

The question is “why aren’t your salespeople motivated?

There are many reasons why salespeople aren’t motivated. This article is about just one of them. Here it is: Your salespeople may not be motivated because they don’t value what you’re offering. You may be surprised by this, but not all salespeople are driven to make money. Let me say that again: Not all salespeople are driven to make money. That does not mean that they don’t want it – it means they aren’t driven to perform in order to make it. That’s why so many fail – they want money, they just aren’t “motivated” to go and get it. Money doesn’t drive them, therefore, the commissions you’re offering don’t entice them to perform. As simple as that may sound, it’s true… and I’ve seen a lot of it.

Can you change it? Can you train someone to be driven to make money? In a word – “no”. The reason is this is considered to be a core value. Values, also known as drivers or motivators typically cannot be changed unless a significant emotional event causes the change in their life. Think about it – some people know every sports statistic for the last 25 years. They can cite RBI’s, number of passing yards, or the free throw percentages for star athletes. Why? Because they love sports. They value sports. They are motivated to attend sports functions, read about sports stars and invest time doing so. They value it - therefore they do it.

Others however, couldn’t tell you the first thing about any sport or particular athlete. But they could tell you all about art. They could describe music, art, sculpture or drama, the same way a sports fanatic describes an exciting play they saw or athlete perform an amazing feat of strength or skill.

Bottom Line: People gravitate towards those things that satisfy their values. Interestingly, that’s why so many people don’t like their jobs or fail to perform. They take a job without realizing their own values or the rewards built into the job. They have a values conflict with the role. They want sports but the company rewards them with tickets to the opera. This doesn't work.

This same issues are also vey common in sales. The salesperson lacks the drive for money, but that's the reward if they perform. So they don't perform and then the sales manager faces the constant battle of what appears to be an unmotivated salesperson.

If you have salespeople who aren’t “motivated”, identifying their core values is an excellent place to start.

Author's Bio: 

Barrett Riddleberger is an internationally recognized leader in the practice of sales assessments, sales training, sales recruitment and retention. His new book, “Blueprint of a Sales Champion,” details how organizations can find, train and retain top performing salespeople even in a highly competitive market through the use of his psychological model of sales performance. An accomplished lecturer, Barrett Riddleberger is also highly in demand as a motivational speaker for organizations seeking to stimulate and inspire a sales force and educate their sales management team on the latest research and innovations in the psychology of sales performance. For more info go to or or call 866.880.5175. E-mail