Forget Ambition, It’s All about Drive and Passion

Blog - SpeedometerI had a conversation with another manager about the ideal sales rep and sales culture.  It’s a conversation I’ve had so many times I knew what she was going to say far before she said it.  The argument goes like this, “Sales people are different.  They are motivated mostly by money.  The best sales people are ambitious (hungry is another favorite synonym) because they want to make a lot of money.”   It’s always interesting to me that it’s assumed sales people are somehow different from everyone else on the planet that doesn’t work on commission.

Ambition is not very useful to an organization because it is generally selfish in nature.  Ambitious people generally want status.  They want more money or a bigger title so that they can show off their new car to all their friends.  Ambitious people will often do whatever it takes to get what they want.  This might be overpromising to customers, undercutting other team members, or making choices that benefit them more than the company.

What any organization really wants is people with drive and passion, people who are internally motivated to be proud of the work they do and want to make a positive impact.  Steve Jobs’ dad made sure even the backside of a cabinet he was building was made with quality and care because, even if no one else saw it, he knew it was there.  This is a great example of someone who takes pride in their work.  He didn’t do it because he would get  a bigger bonus when his manager, if he had had one, came around and inspected the backsides of his cabinets to mark for his performance review.  It’s clear he did it because the quality of his work spoke about his character.  It represented something that would probably outlast him and he wanted to leave his mark.

People that are driven and have a passion to make something great, to change the world, will do their best all the time because they believe in what they do.  Not only that, they will long-term out-perform anyone that’s just in it to get the biggest paycheck that quarter.  Even better, they’ll do a great job even if it’s clear that they or their team won’t be meeting their target that week.

In value-based organizations, there is a mission worth working for and the people they hire are passionate about that mission.  They don’t need to dangle carrots on sticks to get work done, because they have people that would never think about giving less than their best and would be insulted if you implied otherwise.

Related Articles & Posts

Sales People are from Mars

High Commission, Low Return

How to Motivate Your Sales Force to Great Performance

A Radical Prescription for Sales


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