What motivates the best salespeople ? There are other ways to make a lot of money. Why do they choose a calling in which rejection is a daily fact of life even for the best ? Profiles we've done on several thousand top producers point to seven motives that drive them:

The best salespeople seek recognition as proof of their ability and importance. They enjoy power and authority, and are strongly aware of image and reputation.

Successful sellers like people, enjoy being with them and delight in influencing them. But they seldom care whether others like them, a trait which enables them to use emotion without falling prey to it.

They want to be seen as experts on what is right, best or appropriate. They regard themselves as well-intentioned people, willing to help and advise others.

Contrary to the stereotype that top salespeople are impulsive and somewhat undisciplined, most like routine and hate having it interrupted. They prefer positive actions to positive thoughts because, as several have told me, positive thoughts occur naturally after they've gone through their positive routines.

Material comforts - a nice house, expensive clothing, a fancy car - are only the beginning. Money starts as a prime motivator, but the top salespeople earn so much that, as Ben Feldman says, "Money loses its ability to inspire you." The superstars constantly create new challenges, go after the "impossible sales," to maintain their enthusiasm.

Top producers are normally calm, relaxed people who thrive on challenge. They have more physical energy than most of us and welcome outside stimulation as a way to channel their energy in satisfying ways.

The best salespeople have such a strong need to believe in the product that they will switch jobs if the company's reputation falls or have serious doubts about a new product line. But they are not rigidly moralistic; experience has taught them to accept the imperfections, in people and products, of the real world.

Handbook on Business Studies, January 2000

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