Same same, but different

Motivation is different between people, but it is also different between nations. A new study is revealing from a sales point of view. The latest research on sales motivation sheds some further light on why it is important to use programs that are culturally specific to your sales people’s motivations and values.

A major study of sales motivation presented at the annual convention of the Society for Marketing Advances has revealed significant cultural differences driving sales success. It has helped explain why some of the better made-in-the-USA sales management practices aren’t more effective in other nations. The answers may lie in what really provides motivation for salespeople.

The study (co-authored by John Tanner, associate professor of marketing at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, George Dudley, Behavioral Sciences Research Press) asked almost 41,000 people across nine nations what they hope to obtain from their sales careers. Motivations assessed included:

  • Opportunities to use talents.
  • Make money, work creatively.
  • Obtain status.
  • Interact with people.
  • Be self-managed.
  • Progress into management.
  • Freedom from routine.
  • Opportunities to be of service to others.

The nations studied include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Britain and the US. The study assessed sales prospecting call reluctance. The study revealed the following:

“Sales motivation in the US is more money-motivated than in other nations, but there are other more complex motivations at work – 33% of US salespeople and 36% of the salespeople in the UK say they work primarily to earn substantial incomes. This compares to only 9% in Norway and 11% in New Zealand, where ‘lifestyle’ considerations such as opportunities to use their abilities and freedom from routine are considered more important.

“In fact, successful US salespeople often shun advancement into management, because they can usually make much more money in sales. That further distinguishes US salespeople from those of other nations, where sales is frequently viewed as a temporary step on the way to management.

“Over 12% of Australian salespeople actually seek a career in management. For the majority of Australian salespeople, opportunities to use their abilities and freedom from routine are more important motivators than making money, a preference shared by salespeople in New Zealand. However, only 17% of the salespeople in Singapore are similarly motivated. Like their US counterparts, Singaporean salespeople sell primarily to make money.

“US salespeople are more money-motivated than salespeople in other countries. But, they are also more service oriented – 14% of American salespeople say being of service to others is their primary motivation. Among the countries studied salespeople in only one other country, New Zealand (11.5%), even approach that level.”

What do these differences portend?

  • Knowing what makes salespeople tick is critical for finding and keeping top producers.
  • The implications are serious and far-reaching, especially when it comes to multinational sales management practices.
  • American sales management and training and procedures adhere to US presupposed values and perceptions, and may not be optimal, or even suitable, for other countries.
  • It is often better to access country and culturally specific training for your sales people.




Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to


For more Sell Like  a Woman blogs, click here.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.