What It Means to Be 'Money Motivated' (& Should You Be?)

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Lestraundra Alfred
Lestraundra Alfred


The default answer for incentivizing salespeople is often money. Need to launch a new product? Start a sales contest. Need to upgrade more customers? Gamify it with financial incentives.

money motivated salesperson reviews financial data

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But is money the ultimate motivator for salespeople? Let’s discuss what it means to be money motivated, and if financial incentives are truly the best way to foster an engaged, motivated sales team.

Money Motivated

A money-motivated salesperson prioritizes financial compensation through commission and winning competitions over other factors related to work. This means they also don’t gain motivation from factors that are not related to their personal financial advancement.

In a sales role, a money-motivated individual could be someone who is constantly pushing for the sale and is persuading customers to purchase offerings that may not be a good fit for them in the long run simply because they are looking to convert. With financial gain as their only goal, they may not be considering other important factors such as customer satisfaction or retention.

It is important to differentiate between the desire for compensation, and having money be the sole source of motivation in a role. Very few people would be willing to work for free, however, they may find other sources of fulfillment and motivation to do their job to the best of their ability in addition to being compensated.

Most people in the workforce are working because they need to earn a living, however, the desire to be fairly compensated for your work is not the same thing as truly being money motivated.

According to Psychology Today, an employee pay raise needs to be considered substantial, roughly 7% or more, to positively impact employee motivation. In 2020, the average employee pay raise is expected to be around 3% — less than half the amount of money it takes to truly motivate employees. If money were the only way to keep employees motivated and engaged, many companies may struggle to keep up.

According to Psychology Today, an employee pay increase needs to be valued at 7% or more to positively impact employee motivationIt is important to note that while salespeople are not exempt from these findings when it comes to base pay, those in the sales field who work for commission are in a unique position. Compared to those working for hourly pay, sales are one of the few fields where an employee’s level of effort can impact how much money they make.

For example, a salesperson who manages their time effectively and is able to engage with more prospects may close more deals than a salesperson who reaches out to fewer people, resulting in making more money from commission from closing more deals. This creates an entirely different dynamic for salespeople than those who are paid a set amount for a specific number of hours worked.

Because sales is a field that revolves around financial data, it can be tempting to fall into a money-motivated mindset or the idea that financial gain is the end-all-be-all. After all, sales teams are largely responsible for driving a company’s revenue, and without the efforts of salespeople, many companies could not sustain operations.

However, it is important for sales leaders to consider other sources of motivation for their sales teams in addition to financial incentives.

Motivating Salespeople

When salespeople are solely focused on financial motivation, they may feel especially discouraged during a slower sales period or when their company is not able to continue increasing their pay at a rate in alignment with their work. Additionally, having a narrow definition of success or a fleeting motivator can make money-motivated reps more likely to experience burnout.

Consider exploring other factors in addition to financial compensation that can help factors feel motivated and fulfilled. According to RAIN Group, top-performing sellers are truly motivated by multiple factors including:

Company Culture

Having a healthy, inclusive work environment that fosters and supports sales rep growth and development. As a sales leader, consider the ways you can create an environment your reps can thrive in.

Do you have regular meetings where reps feel they can openly communicate their thoughts and concerns? Do your reps have the tools and resources they need to successfully complete their jobs and feel empowered in their role? These can be great places to start.

Management and Leadership

An employee’s working relationship with their manager is one of the biggest deciding factors in their performance. Having a manager who lends support and inspiration to keep employees motivated. Top sellers are twice as likely to have managers who motivate them.

Consider the interactions you have with your reps on a regular basis. How can you help them feel motivated through your words and actions? Can any of your current practices be considered demotivating? This can also be a great opportunity to ask your reps for feedback on ways you can partner with them to keep them motivated.

Personal Motivators

Understanding a rep’s personal or intrinsic motivators provide valuable insight into what drives them to get the job done. Salespeople are often motivated by what matters with them, or what reward is in alignment with their personal values. Examples of intrinsic motivators for reps can include recognition, the desire to win (whether money is involved or not), satisfaction from completing a project, and more.

Have an open dialogue with your reps to understand what motivates them on an individual level.

Values and Purpose

Those who engaged in purpose-driven work, or whose personal values align with the values of their company tend to be more motivated. For salespeople, understanding how their work creates a positive result for the customer or end-user can be more motivating than simply meeting quota.

A way to bring this to life for your team is to share positive reviews with your reps if they had a recent engagement with a satisfied customer.

For sales reps and managers alike, understanding how to unlock individual sources of motivation is critical for the success of the sales organization as a whole. Check out this post for actionable strategies you can use to motivate your sales team.



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