Sales manager: how the desire for recognition undermines performance


When it comes to the sources of the motivation of a sales manager, I have noticed that the reasons why a manager wants to be successful in his role are very little explored and misunderstood. However, I think it is essential to know these different reasons because they have a direct impact on the manager’s ability to be successful or not in his function.

Group of people working out business plan in an office

With our partner Objective Management Group, we have compiled data that brings out the following observation: several sales managers are mainly motivated by the desire for recognition. Today, I want to share how this form of motivation impacts a manager’s performance on a daily basis.

Elements that make up motivation

1. Level of desire to be successful in sales management

The first important indicator that you need to consider in establishing someone’s potential to be successful in their role is their willingness to be successful. Indeed, an individual’s willingness to succeed and perform in a sales management role is a critical factor.

For example, this will can come from having the desire to want to be successful in your role, to want to be the best in your role or to want to be a good leader.

2. Level of commitment to be successful

The commitment is being desperate to achieve a goal. That is, to do certain things that can make you uncomfortable, but which are necessary, legal, and ethical. A high commitment to wanting success is a highly desirable asset.

Is your commitment to success unconditional?

The reasons why a sales manager wants to be successful will fuel their level of willpower. It is important to differentiate between conditional and unconditional commitment. To be able to develop the full potential of the sales manager, the latter must have an unconditional commitment .

When we observe the different elements that motivate a sales manager, we very often find the desire to be recognized by others . Unfortunately, this reason is far from being strong enough to develop the full potential of the sales manager.

Instead of wanting to be recognized, the manager must sincerely desire to be the best at his job. Thus, he must be able to manage his sales team in an exemplary manner. In short, we must favor the fact of wanting to be the best, because it is a stronger and more sustainable way of fueling a desire to succeed in sales management.

Why does the need for recognition hurt sales managers?

Next, you should also remember that wanting to be recognized by your peers is not a valid reason for wanting to be a sales manager. Here are 2 reasons why a sales manager’s need for recognition can hurt your business.

Problem # 1: Wanting to get recognition more frequently

The first problem is that the majority of salespeople primarily want to be promoted in the hope of gaining recognition on a more regular basis . This poses a problem since this unfavorable need takes precedence over the desire to be the best. However, the role of sales manager is not a job that achieves a high level of recognition. Indeed, being a sales manager requires an enormous amount of rather difficult work and unfortunately the recognition is little present, even non-existent.

Also, it is possible to go through long moments without any recognition, as the results do not meet your expectations, and this can have a negative impact on you and your attitude. If your motivation is primarily recognition, you are going to be caught in a vicious cycle.

Conversely, when you have the will to want to be the best, this motivation is less subject to change according to external factors which can sometimes be negative. Thus, during difficult situations, you will not lose your motivation, because aspire to be the best means wanting to face difficulties and learn from your failures in order to perform better afterwards. 

Problem # 2: Prioritize the need for recognition over your performance

The second problem is that the need for recognition can interfere with your overall performance and the work that needs to be done . To counter this problem, I advise you to constantly challenge your team, to give regular feedback and to do coaching, for example.

Know the reasons that motivate to be a manager

When you are a sales leader, your role is to find out what really fuels the drive to succeed of representatives who aspire to be managers. If you do this analysis, you can be sure that you are not promoting a seller who only wants to be recognized by others.

You have to encourage and promote the right behaviors and if necessary, I suggest that you try to modify the origin of their desire by yourself before giving them the role in question. So you have to try to get the person to want the role for the right reasons, like wanting to be the best, otherwise the sales manager position is not for the candidate in the long run.


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