I have recently come across the Social motivation when assessing some sales candidates for a couple different customers and now I just heard a sales rep on the radio revealing his motivation.  Here is what the salesperson said on the radio:

I just met with a company yesterday who was paying almost twice as much to our competitor for the same service.  They were getting ripped off and it isn’t right.

I don’t deny the nobility of his position, but the reality is that very few services are exactly the same (despite prospect’s claims).  A strong salesperson will define their value to the prospect who will make a decision about that value.  It may be that the prospect simply sees something in that company’s product/service that they require/need/value.

My concern for the salesperson on the radio is that he is unconsciously removing any differentiating value from his service.  He is turning the decision into one based solely on price.  That is a prospect move!

Here is where the Social motivation undermines salespeople.  Their natural desire to help others without expecting anything in return undermines their selling ability.  Again, it is a noble motivation and I personally wouldn’t want to live in a world without many Social motivations.  However, sales is not for the feint of heart.  Strong salespeople are consistently assessing the return on their investment of time, resources, money, effort, etc.  Salespeople need to determine if they have a strong prospect…and the faster they can make that determination, the more they can sell.

To be fair, there are a few sales positions where a Social motivation can thrive.  We once assessed a flourishing sales team at a company that provided a product for young mothers.  The team was successful and almost every salesperson was a Social.

But if you are hiring for sales, your best avenue is to hire strong Utilitarians.  If you are uncertain of your candidates’ motivations, we can help.

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