Seven Sales Motivations That Go Beyond Money and Why They Matter

“It’s not about the salary/it’s all about reality”

This couplet, first appearing in 1988 – in N.W.A.’s “Gangsta, Gangsta” and KRS-One’s “My Philosophy” – and revived in 2005 in Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name”, serves as the inspiration to today’s blog post. Too often, sales professionals can get caught up in the game, pursuing money and the sometimes literal trappings of a conspicuous consumerist lifestyle. This, in turn, can precipitate burnout or the classic mid-life crisis, with significant fallout. Consequently, it becomes imperative to ground your motivation for a sales career into something intrinsically meaningful.

  1. The motivation of security.
    Arguably the biggest factor for working, period. We work to get money to provide for ourselves and our families. Because sales is a potentially lucrative career, securing your family financially can serve as the fundamental motivation for being a sales professional. It also is an altruistic source of energy – you’re not doing this to get things; you’re doing this to free yourself and your loved ones from monetary worries and anxieties.
  2. The motivation of higher purpose.
    This can take a lot of different forms. But the most common one for a sales careerist is belief in your employer’s mission and the products that you sell. More fundamentally, you believe in the ability of your company and its offerings to help others achieve their dreams and goals. Because your buy-in is complete, you have the energy needed to engage in the missionary work needed to spread awareness of what you sell. You’re also more likely to see the intersection between customers’ pain points and how your products alleviate those issues – which should be a primary component of your sales methodology.
  3. The motivation of goals.
    Whether it’s KPIs, President’s Club, promotion, raises, contests, or something else, some sales professionals are most motivated by goals. While lacking the philanthropic mindset of the first two motivations, this one is still important for staying invested and invigorated by your career. After all, there’s always another objective to pursue on the horizon.
  4. The motivation of teamwork.
    Sometimes, it’s not about your individual accomplishments. It’s about the esprit de corps of working as part of a team to achieve objectives. The office becomes a second home, your colleagues a source of friendships and a second family. This is a motivation that sales leadership should work particularly hard at cultivating in the sales team – it’s one of the best ways to retain top performers.
  5. The motivation of relationships.
    If you’re motivated by relationships, then you’re a people person. Sales becomes your dream career because every day you’re making connections and fostering relationships with a wide array of people. Whether it’s the first connection with a new lead or talking to an existing client about expanding their account, you’re at the center of a radiating web of contact and communication.
  6. The motivation of learning.
    There’s always something new to learn in sales. Whether it’s researching a lead, getting sales training and coaching, reading up on the latest best practices, or something else, some of the best sales professionals are motivated by the mindset of the eternal student. This is also one of the top ways to keep your career from getting stale. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement, after all.
  7. The motivation of leadership.
    Whether it’s receiving mentoring early on in your career or guiding a team as a sales manager later, the bi-directional flow of leadership can be a powerful motivating animus for sales reps. It’s a font from which to grow not only as a sales professional, but as a person, and to lead others in accomplishing the same feat for veteran professionals.

It’s worth noting that there need not be a single motivational source among these. In fact, top performers often find the inspiration to stay in the field from several points of motivation. Nor is it static. You could, for example, be motivated by learning and security as a new sales rep, a higher purpose and goals mid-career, and leadership, teamwork, and relationships as a tenured sales professional.

Regardless of your motivations that lie beyond money for the sake of money, it’s important to have them if you want a long, happy career in sales. So if you can’t identify them right this minute, take some time in the near future to think about it. You might just find yourself with new energy, purpose, and drive.