Intrinsic motivation, Sense of purpose, Personal selling, Self-determination theory


Marketing | Sales and Merchandising


Much of the current research on salesperson motivation focuses on extrinsic reward expectancy related to compensation, contests, incentives, and quotas. We find that while salespeople want to make money, they also want to make a difference and contribute to society through their work. In Study 1, the qualitative findings reveal that a sense of purpose–the belief that one is making a contribution to a cause greater and more enduring than oneself–is a significant motivator for salespeople. Hence, in Study 2 we develop a measure for sense of purpose and distinguish it from related constructs. Finally, in Study 3 we use a dynamic modeling approach with longitudinal salesperson data to empirically demonstrate that sense of purpose is an antecedent to intrinsic motivation. We also discover that intrinsic motivation is more positively associated with increased salesperson effort, adaptivity, and performance than is a desire for money on average over time, particularly for younger salespeople. These findings not only contribute to theory but also have important ramifications for the effective management of modern sales organizations.

Original Citation

Good, V., Hughes, D. E., & Wang, H. (2021). More than money: establishing the importance of a sense of purpose for salespeople. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 1-24.

Available for download on Friday, August 19, 2022