Pile of dollar bills

Hiring Salespeople – Don’t Confuse Desperation with Greed

What is a greater motivator, greed or desperation? I started thinking about this after reading a post about hiring salespeople on the Sales Drive blog last week titled, “Should I Hire a Greedy Salesperson?” The post made some great points, but I also think the author confused greed and desperation, two terms that need to be understood when it comes to hiring, motivating, and managing a sales team.

The author argues:

Salespeople motivated by money may come out of the gate strong, showing that they know how to sell, but later falter or just plateau. The cause of this phenomenon is straightforward . . . the salesperson motivated by external needs or pressures will usually work to relieve those pressures, closing sales to pay off the mortgage, the car, etc. However, when those external pressures are relieved, the salesperson will no longer have the same incentive to outperform.


While I agree that Drive is crucial and that it is important to work with a salesperson to flatten out the ebb and flow of their deal volume, greed is not a function of having bills to pay. That is desperation, and in sales desperation is a killer.

What keeps a salesperson motivated is long term needs and wants. These can be external, and serve as a constant reminder that one month, one deal, or one good quarter does not bring you financial freedom or flexibility.

At the end of the day, salespeople are all motivated by and driven by money. If we were not, we would choose a job where we are not directly in control of our earning potential.

Why do I say desperation is a deal killer and something you shouldn’t be searching for in your team? Here are a few reasons and some ways to also drive and motivated a sales person or team away from desperation:

Prospects can sense and smell desperation.

It is in the words we use, the timeline we propose, and how hard we push. Salespeople who need to close a deal will focus all their efforts on doing so and often will be tight or tense, just like an elite athlete in a championship game.

If you go into a deal knowing you can lose it and still make your month, you will have a lot more confidence.

Forget about financial pressures

External financial pressures, such as a mortgage or car payment, can also make a salesperson push boundaries we don’t want to push. This type of stretching the way you pitch a product could be innocent but ultimately very costly to a brand reputation.

Greedy salespeople manage their finances and months so they have some cushion and look for success over the long haul of their career.

Greed is good

Greed can be a motivator and keep your sales funnel strong for long term success. Motivating your salesperson not just around making a car or mortgage payment but rather by getting a new car or redoing a room in your home can still be greed, but is a longer-term type of goal.

This requires savings and working a strong sales funnel for month over month success.

In the end, I agree with Sales Drive that drive and continued success is what we all look for and aim to hire for a salesperson. But, I do not think greed is to be frowned upon or misunderstood for desperation.

As Gordon Gekko said in the movie Wall Street, “Greed is good,” and it is a good thing to have in your sales team. Desperation though can lead to short term pushing and a flat line as described.

That flat line is likely what got the desperate salesperson into financial distress in the first place, so they are just keeping the cycle going.