Revealing True Money Motivation in Your Sales Candidates


Most sales candidates will tell you they’re driven by money, but how can you be sure they aren’t just paying you lip service? Learn how to uncover true drive and motivation before you invest your resources in the wrong hire.

In 19, hyper-focused minutes, we’ll cover:
  • Specific, EEO compliant questions to get clear about a candidate’s money motivation
  • Ways to find out how your candidates define “a lot of money” and how their perception impacts your bottom line
  • How to adjust compensation to effectively motivate your reps

Read the Full Transcript of the Briefinar Below: 

Anita Greenland:    Good morning and welcome to the Brooks Groups July Briefinar. We promise to be brief, be bright and done in 19 minutes or less. My name is Anita Greenland and I am the director of facilitation excellence here at The Brooks Group. I facilitate many of our sales programs and sales management training and coaching programs as well as train all of our other coaches and facilitators here in the United States as well as internationally.
Drea Douglass:    I’m Drea Douglass, director of talent management consulting. I head up a team of talent consultants that work with our clients to help them hire, develop and retain top sales performers. 
Anita Greenland:    All right. To get us started, we’ve got a question for you. So get ready with your mouse because we going to launch a poll question here in just a moment. So thinking about your job, your role as a sales manager, I want you to identify what you think is your number one biggest challenge as a sales manager. We’ll give you guys about 30 seconds or so to chime in on that. Your options are recruiting and selection, establishing expectations, training and coaching, course correcting and determining metrics to measure. So we’ll give you guys about five more seconds. Four, three, two, one. 
Anita Greenland:    All right. Let’s take a look at the results and this is not at all a surprise to me. My experience as a sales manager as well as what I hear from the hundreds of other sales managers that I’ve trained and coach and that I network with regularly, finding and keeping the right people is one of the most challenging things and the thing is is when you get the right people on the bus, it makes managing all those other challenges a lot easier. So we want to talk about one of the key aspects of finding and keeping the right people and there’s a lot of characteristics that help make a great salesperson. But there are just a couple of key motivators that we see over and over and over again that usually indicate a high likelihood of superior performance and long-term success. Drea, tell us what are those? What is the key motivator? 
Drea Douglass:    Well, when we’re talking about alignment and engagement in a role, you have to first take a look at what the job rewards. Every sales job rewards one thing in particular and that’s the drive to make money. We call this the utilitarian drive and it’s rewarded in sales jobs with commission, bonuses and varying levels of income potential. The utilitarian dimension measures the drive for return on investment and financial incentives. The more weight on commission, the more driven a person needs to be in this area. A lot of people assume that we are all, as human beings, inherently motivated by this, by money, but that’s simply not true. So you need to be able to discern whether your sales candidates are truly driven in this area or not. 
Anita Greenland:    Well, I think it’s our human nature to think that we’re all motivated by money because who doesn’t want to make a lot of money? 
Drea Douglass:    Right.
Anita Greenland:    Most human beings want to make a lot of money, but there’s a difference between that and how it motivates you. 
Drea Douglass:    Right.
Anita Greenland:    Do you get a thrill out of it? Is it fun? Does it invigorate you? So if you’re not able to determine that, we’ve got some, a good way, that’s why we’re here today is to talk about a strategy for trying to uncover that money motivation or return on investment motivation in a candidate. 
Drea Douglass:    Exactly. That’s what we’re all here for today. So we’re going to go over a couple of interview questions you can ask to get clear about how driven and motivated your candidates are in this area and the specifics regarding that. So the first question I like to ask or recommend is how has your compensation been structured in the past or at your most recent employer? You’ll notice, this question is worded very specifically. It’s not, “What did you make? What was your total comp?” It’s how is it structured? So you’re really trying to get at what the ratio was on commission versus salary.
Anita Greenland:    Obviously, the more weight that there is on commission, the more intentional you want to do, to seek out a candidate who is motivated by money. 
Drea Douglass:    Right. So depending on how your compensation is structured in your sales role, you’ll want to hear a different answer. So if the role is 100% commissionable, you want that person to say, “I like uncapped earning potential. I like a 100% commission.” If there is a significant weight on salary with a small potential for more, then that changes things a little bit. 
Anita Greenland:    Yeah. So a good drill down question that I’ve heard you ask Drea is-
Drea Douglass:    In an ideal world, how would your compensation be structured? So hopefully your sales candidate has thought about this before. People who are truly ROI driven and oriented think about these things all the time. That’s what consumes them. Just like other people who are driven and motivated by other things, that’s what they think about. People who are truly motivated by this will think about, “Man, if this was a perfect world, I would have 70% weight on salary, 30% on commission. I just like a little bit of extra. Not that I am all of my livelihood is dependent on my ability to drive sales results.”
Anita Greenland:    So another question that we recommend asking is?
Drea Douglass:    How have you achieved year over year growth in your accounts and in your territory with new business development? It’s a long question and it can really be broken into three parts. The first part being the year over year growth. So this way of phrasing the question allows for the possibility of a person to have time to achieve results, the possibility that they may make mistakes within that, but that they can prove themselves over time, but you want to get a really good sense of what that looks like for them or what that looked like for them. 
Drea Douglass:    The second part is in their accounts. So of course this means existing business. How have they been able to achieve year over year growth within their existing accounts? Then the third piece is in their territory with new business development. You can even ask for a ratio here as well. Like we recommend in that first question. How much time did you spend on new business development versus cultivating your existing accounts? 
Anita Greenland:    Obviously a more money motivated ROI driven candidate was going to be spending a lot of time, a higher ratio on developing new business and developing their territory and growing their territory versus servicing existing accounts. 
Drea Douglass:    Right, and certain personalities too. So then you get a peak not only in their motivation but their personality, which are two different things.
Anita Greenland:    A question that I have asked historically over and over again, because I came from an industry that was 100% commission, the question I would ask is if your income or your commission doesn’t cover your expenses for a month here and there, how does that make you feel? Most industries have some sort of seasonality to them. So if you’re in a straight commission job, that means that your income is going to have some seasonality to it. It’s going to have some highs and it’s going to have some lows. Of course the highs are really great, but the lows can sometimes to somebody that is not money motivated can become paralyzing.
Drea Douglass:    Right. 
Anita Greenland:    They just fear. They’re like a deer caught in headlights, they just can’t do anything.
Drea Douglass:    Absolutely. The people with a lower drive here tend to be financially more risk averse as well. So this is a good way to reveal their level of risk aversion financially. Another question I like to ask here to drill down is not only how does it make you feel, but how do you plan for those times? So drilling down into how they budget or how they have in the past planned for those lean times because any person in sales has been met with this circumstance. So they have, should have experience going through it and if they’re left scrambling and panicking, not making a plan or not being able to articulate a reasonable plan, logical plan to you in the interview, that’s a flag. 
Anita Greenland:    Exactly. Our last question.
Drea Douglass:    When in a heavy negotiation and the prospect asks you for a discount, what’s your first reaction? So here you have another scenario based question and getting a good sense of how this person reacts to this because again, every salesperson is going to be confronted with this situation and either they’re under that stress, they’re going to fight or they’re going to fly. So ideally you’d look for that person who fights to hold the ground and sell on value rather than running to their manager and asking if they can drop the price for them. I’m curious to hear how you have a … What your experience has been asking this question. 
Anita Greenland:    Well, I think a really great follow-up question to this because I certainly as a manager have experienced that revolving door of salespeople asking me or trying to pass along the discount or get me to agree to the discount and so I definitely try to wash that concern away by asking some good follow up questions to this like tell me about when you were first a new salesperson and you were presented with this, because every single salesperson is presented with this scenario very, very regularly, if not every day, certainly every week. So tell me about the first time that you handled this. What did you do well? What could you have done better? Tell me how you handle this question. Now, obviously, like you said, we’re looking for salespeople who will hold their ground and sell on value versus being quick to discount.
Drea Douglass:    Right, even further, those are great drill down questions, learning, seeing how, letting them tell you their own story about when it happened to them their very first time and what the pitfalls were and how they learned from that experience and how they’re applying those lessons going forward so that you get that, again, that fuller, clearer picture of this candidate. 
Anita Greenland:    I think the key with these five questions plus the drill down questions that we’ve shared with you is making sure that you ask them consistently with every candidate that you interview. You really want to get more of an apples to apples comparison and you can’t do that if you are very selective about who you ask these questions of. But there’s another scenario that I want to just throw out there or another suggestion that I want to throw out there.
Drea Douglass:    A bonus question?
Anita Greenland:    Yeah, the bonus question is oftentimes heavy commission jobs will offer a guarantee for a certain amount of time, like six months, a year, maybe 18 months. It depends on the typical sales cycle for that industry and if a candidate seems to have a track record, if by looking at their resume, it looks like they’re changing jobs about every one and a half to two years, which might coincide, might, I say coincide with the ramp up period coming to an end, that might be another area where you should ask some questions because perhaps when the going gets a little tough, when they get weaned off of that guarantee, maybe they get going and so you certainly want to try to weed that out as early as you can. 
Anita Greenland:    So you might want to ask questions about asking them about what their ramp up periods were, what their guarantee situation was like in their previous job and how successful were they at weaning themselves off of that guarantee. Did they need a longer guarantee? Were they able to wean themselves off more quickly than the guarantee? That’s the little bonus section for you there. 
Drea Douglass:    Yeah, it’s a really great indicator. I would even go as far as to recommend literally having their resume in front of you and ask, go down the list of their previous employers and next to the dates and their employment dates list, what they tell you was their ramp period. Then you have that as a reference as you’re trying to compare all your candidates together and say, “Is there a pattern here?” So this one is clearly showing the pattern of jumping ship once they got off ramp.
Anita Greenland:    So we’ve spent most of our time giving you all some suggestions on interview questions. We want to turn the lines over to you and so in the chat box you can text our producer Allison with any questions that you might have that you would like for us to answer and she’s one with me. So keep those questions coming. We’ll answer as many as we can in the remaining time we have allotted. So the first question that we have is it legal to ask an applicant for a copy of their W2? That’s a very good question. It is legal, but sometime some people questioned the ethics of it. It’s most commonly asked for sales roles as a way to validate the income and commissions that were paid in previous jobs. 
Anita Greenland:    I know as a perspective sales person, when I was early in my career, I was asked to provide my W2 many times and as a hiring manager, I ask for applicants copies of their W2s. Now, I don’t know, some people feel that if you have to ask for proof of income, then you must not trust them very much. So if you don’t trust them then maybe you shouldn’t be hiring them. So that’s one school of thought, at the same time I think a lot of other people feel that it is a best practice to ensure that they aren’t overpaying and they aren’t underpaying. So that they are making the right kind of compensation package for the candidate. 
Drea Douglass:    Sure. Yeah, in some organizations even go as far as to ask for W2s early in the interview process and that’s to protect themselves or from wasting time with candidates they can’t afford. But that’s a bit of a faux pas. So you definitely want to wait to do that until a candidate is in the running.
Anita Greenland:    In the final stages.
Drea Douglass:    Right, in the final stages. 
Anita Greenland:    Absolutely. Okay. I think we have another question coming in.
Drea Douglass:    Yeah. Is it possible to measure money motivation? Yes, it is. It is possible to definitively measure it, to get a very clear numerical answer and that’s in using the motivators assessment. So at The Brooks Group, we have a tool called Brooks Talent Index which includes three different assessments, one of which is the motivators. The motivators assessment we consider most important, in fact, to long-term success and superior performance because you’re really measuring what is deeply personal and inherent and isn’t going to change just because someone starts a new job. So you really need to ensure that your candidates are driven and motivated by the thing that job rewards or things the job rewards right now, not with the hope that they’ll change. 
Anita Greenland:    I think we’ve got time for one more question. Let’s see.
Drea Douglass:    It’s a draw versus 100% commission. Is there a difference in your opinion? 
Anita Greenland:    Personally, I don’t think there is a difference because the draw is only there to ensure that a person can meet their bare minimum financial obligations, at least in the world that I come from and I came from a 100% straight commission background and we did have a draw against commission but that draw was set at a pretty low bar and if you’re money motivated, you’re going to hit that draw every month without a problem and exceed that with your commission. So I don’t see that as any different. So that is about all the time that we have for today. 
Anita Greenland:    Just want to mention to you all that if you’re interested, we do have a workshop coming up in the next couple of months, in the mid-September. We’ve talked a lot about interview questions that can help reveal a candidate’s true motivations and one of the questions was can you measure for that money motivation and as Drea said, our Brooks Talent Index assessment does that, so we’re going to be doing this real hands on workshop in mid-September in Nashville on understanding your team in general, but also in addition to understanding motivators, you understand their personality and understand what their strengths are, what their developmental areas are and how to coach to those because that’s ultimately going to help lead you and your team to long-term success and superior performance. 
Anita Greenland:    So if you’re interested, we do have a link at the bottom of the screen here as well as you could go to our website, and search for it there. Also want to mention our next Briefinar will be coming up in August. All of our Briefinars will always be on the fourth Wednesday of the month. So in August it will be August 24th and it will be titled the three types of nightmare sales reps and how to coach them. So we hope we’ll see you in here next month. In the meantime, happy selling.

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