Sales Motivation: What it Means to Be Ego Driven

Sales Motivation: What it Means to Be Ego Driven

Nichole Gunn


It’s no secret that salespeople have a reputation for being ego-driven. Sales is a competitive field and it attracts people who like visible, immediately gratifying accomplishments. Many elements of the famous sales ego are external. Take competition with co-workers and rival organizations, for example. Great salespeople are also known for charismatic and persuasive interactions with customers. The sales motivation underneath all those extroverted displays, however, is very emotional and personal. The source of ego-driven motivation is not always ambition or energy. Ego-driven sales motivation often comes from a need to enhance self-esteem (Greenberg, Herbert M., 2010).

sales motivation ego driven

Incentive programs play into self-esteem enhancement by offering rewards that are more personal than cash and compensation. Cash is not a very visible or sentimental reward. You can’t show it off, and it’s gone as soon as it’s spent. By using non-cash rewards to motivate sales teams, managers can tap into the deeper, personal self-esteem needs of ego-driven individuals. Companies like Incentive Solutions focus on non-cash rewards in their incentive programs to reach these emotional needs.

The Complete Guide to Accelerating Sales Force Performance defines these five ego-focused motivators, each of which can be addressed with Incentive Solution reward program enhancement modules:

1. Achievement (“I’m succeeding.”)

sales motivation meme Salespeople who are driven by achievement often have their own “personal best” goals, separate and more challenging than the team’s goals. They are often top earners and like frequent reaffirmations. They like to do things the right way and are always looking to improve their abilities.

Modules like Incentive Solutions’ Mobile App make achievement-oriented people feel more connected to their personal goals. Mobile devices have become the command centers of our social and professional lives. We use phones to shop, maintain our personal relationships and communicate with business contacts. When incentive program rewards are part of their daily mobile activities, accomplishments stay on the forefront of salespeople’s minds. Every time they tap the app the program and immediately see their achievements, they feel more successful.

2. Social Affiliation (“I have friends.”)

Salespeople who are driven by social interaction are easy to identify. They love communicating and connecting with people. They most likely enjoy or excel at public speaking, networking events, and meetings. Attention and appreciation from others satisfy these salespeople’s need for social affiliation.

Visible, non-cash rewards give social-oriented salespeople something to brag and talk about with others. The trophy value of a tangible reward means they can start conversations about their success, share stories, or show off pictures if the reward was a trip or ticketed event. For socially affiliated sales team members, their success is often validated by the attention and admiration of others.

sales meme 3. Power (“I run things.”) and 4. Gratification (“I’m the best.”)

Power and gratification are very similar motivations. Those driven by a sense of power enjoy being seen as the best at what they do. They’re often highly independent and like to feel that their accomplishments are entirely their own. Likewise, those driven by gratification are concerned with their ranking and public acknowledgement (awards, speeches, etc.) for their achievements.

Those who are driven by power and gratification are most responsive to recognition for their efforts. Incentive Solutions’ Leader Board module is an effective tool of recognition and engagement for these types of salespeople because it promises immediate visibility. If they’re not high-ranking, the Leaderboard can give them the extra pressure they need to push beyond their average performance and show their skills to everyone.

5. Survival (“I don’t want to fail.”) Those who are survival-motivated are usually lower-performing salespeople. Often, they are content as long as their paycheck is meeting their basic needs like food, shelter, transportation, and a few luxuries. They may not feel much need to impress others or “show off” their persuasion and closing skills.

The diversity of awards available in the Incentive Solutions online catalog means that everyone on the sales team can enjoy them. Many items like books and movie tickets have a low point cost, so low-performing salespeople can still experience the personal satisfaction of non-cash rewards. They can also set higher goals for themselves by adding bigger and better rewards to their online rewards catalog. Program administrators also have the ability to set multiple kinds of goals with the Performance Tracking module, assigning different promotions for salespeople with different performance levels and motivations.

Ego-driven salespeople are often outgoing, gregarious types who love interaction. When looking a little deeper at the ego, however, you can distinguish many different personal motivations underneath. Companies like Incentive Solutions have years of experience working with sales managers and sales teams; they understand that incentive rewards should resonate with a variety of emotional drives. With inclusive incentive program features, sales managers can motivate multiple personality types.

Steve Damerow
Former CEO of Extu


Greenberg, Herbert M. 2010. “The personality of a top salesperson.”

Sinha, P., Zoltners, A.A., Zoltners, G.A. 2001. The complete guide to accelerating sales force performance. AMACOM. New York, New York.

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