In the May, 1995, issue of Sales & Marketing Management

magazine, in the "Professional Speaking" section, the following

appeared in the form of a question asked of James Weitzel, an

industrial psychologist with Banks & Weitzel, Princeton, NJ:

    QUESTION: I recently saw the results of a national survey of

    salespeople that ranked "money" as the sixth of seventh most

    important motivational factor affecting sales performance.

    In my experience managing salespeople, money should be

    closer to the top of the list. Who is right?

    JAMES WEITZEL: People's attitudes about money are often

    difficult to measure, and surveys like this are always

    subject to misinterpretation. Take the following minisurvey,

    for example. Rank the following five work factors in terms

    of their motivational value to salespeople, based on your

    own experience and observation.

    Use the scale: 5=very much, 4=above average, 3=average,

    2=below average, 1=very little.

    _____ PERKS (office size, company-paid travel, car)

    _____ SUPERVISION (dynamic, inspirational, understanding)

    _____ MONEY (salary, bonus, commissions)

    _____ TEAM ENVIRONMENT (camaraderie, group spirit, cohesion)

    _____ RECOGNITION (awards, plaques, company recognition)

         Now, have your salespeople complete the survey.

    Salespeople will almost always rank money as being less

    important to them than management thinks it is.

         Many salespeople see money as a way of keeping

    score--the more they earn, the more competitive/success points

    they are earning.

         At the same time, however, people are willing to

    attribute money's importance to others, and less willing to

    admit its importance to themselves. One reason for this

    response can be attributed to our culture. We adore the her,

    but dislike the braggart. We are a competitive society, but

    it would be politically incorrect to openly admit how

    central is in our lives. Give the same minisurvey to two

    salespeople and each will rate the other as being more

    attached to money than themselves.

         The bottom line is to treat survey results such as

    these with an understanding of the cultural factors that may

    influence the responses. Money is important, but when asking

    questions about its importance--or that of other sensitive

    subjects--it's wise to be slightly indirect and subtle to

    gain accurate answers.