Identifying the Indicators of Drive & Motivation

Christopher Croner, Ph.D., a principal with SalesDrive, studied more than 80 years of research in the sales sector to better understand drive. According to Croner, it has been estimated that up to 50 percent of people who are currently making their living through sales are in the wrong line of work. They may be excellent communicators, likable and gregarious, yet they do not possess drive - the most important characteristic of people who sell for a living. Through proper testing and interview techniques, drive can be identified, measured, and monitored. To thrive in a competitive business environment, you must recognize the importance of the three elements of drive and have a process to confirm that you and those individuals responsible for business development possess a critical trait.

Can you easily recognize a person with high drive characteristics? No. Drive can easily be misinterpreted and faked. It is difficult to discern a person's need for achievement (represented by industriousness) and optimism (represented by persistence in the face of failure).

Indicators of Drive

You may have a special interest in “indicators” that correlate to the need for achievement, competitiveness, and optimism.

Need for Achievement

  1. Substantial past sacrifices for success at work (time, other pursuits, etc.)
  2. Has regularly exceeded expectations for projects, making sales numbers, customer service
  3. Has been a sharp critic of own efforts; is tough on self in judging accomplishments
  4. Has regularly shown effort beyond the typical work week
  5. Has accomplished a very challenging work goal; has a specific plan to top that goal
  6. Tells a story about a major accomplishment and hard work to achieve it
  7. Has a story about exerting a tremendous effort leading to a major accomplishment; has done so regularly; feels that such effort is simply par for the course


  1. Has more than one recent example (work, home, sports)
  2. Consistently ranks at or near the top of the sales team and gives permission to verify
  3. Tells about enjoying the process of winning over a difficult customer
  4. Manager ranks candidate as among most competitive
  5. Tells about competition with coworkers or with competitors over a customer; describes it as a common occurrence


  1. A history of substantial effort to secure a new customer
  2. Quickly puts rejection in perspective and bounces back by working on another sale
  3. Attributes a problem to a temporary, unusual situation out of own control

[Source: Croner & Abraham, 2006]

The superstars of today and tomorrow share the three elements that take them to new heights of sales success—the need for achievement, competitiveness and optimism. Drive…your most important trait for sales success!

*All quotations sourced from Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again

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