Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is about my only recollection from Psychology 101 class in college. The gist of Maslow’s theory is that humans are motivated by five ascending kinds of needs. The hierarchy suggests that basic needs must be met prior to less basic needs; for example, a starving person will seek food before self-actualization (reaching their full potential). Sales people are motivated by a similar ascension of needs and it’s clear where they fall in the hierarchy based on the level of due diligence that they undertake when considering a potential job change.
Due diligence defined (thanks Google):
- Reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling something.
- A comprehensive appraisal of a business undertaken by a prospective buyer, especially to establish its assets and liabilities and evaluate its commercial potential.
Beyond a legal requirement, the term “due diligence” can be applied to a voluntary investigation of any important decision, for example, buying a new car, choosing a financial advisor, or making a job change. The theory behind due diligence is that an informed, calculated decision beats an impulsive, reflexive decision.
We recruit B2B salespeople into careers with our clients, the country’s top commercial insurance agent/brokers. Sales people (like all people) considering a job change demonstrate 3 levels of competence in career due diligence.
Level 1: What can my next sales job fix today? Could be a higher base pay, a better commission plan, a nicer boss, less paperwork, a more convenient work location, less road warrior travel, no evening appointments, etc. All of these are legitimate concerns BUT if your main due diligence criteria are to cure economic desperation or short-term job pains and inconveniences, you should be prepared for chronic disappointment and a series of job changes. Not saying this to be shocking. I can show you a few thousand resumes from our database that prove this point. Frankly, one of the few cons of an iPhone is that a salesperson can use it too easily after a bad day to instant-apply for 6 new sales jobs through LinkedIn or Indeed.
Level 2: Where can I move up to learn more and have a bigger sales impact? You’re not economically desperate nor are you considering a job change to fix a today pain or inconvenience. You are not miserable but you are ready to move up and to learn more and to make a bigger impact. Maybe you’re in inside sales and want to move up to outside sales. Maybe you’re selling a product and you want to sell a service. Maybe you’re selling Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and you want to sell Business-to-Business (B2B). Maybe you’re a Pharma rep and you want to get a real sales job (OK, that was to be shocking and it’s a little mean too — but there is a lot of truth in it too).
Level 3: How can I maximize my sales career growth? You’re not economically desperate, in short term pain, or even the least bit miserable in your job. You’re challenged and genuinely like the sales environment, the people you work with, and the company you represent. You just have a nagging voice in your head that says “I might be missing the opportunity be do something bigger, better, and take myself and my career to an entirely different level.” It’s the sales career equivalent of striving to reach the Self-Actualization triangle on the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!
If you’re considering a sales job change, know where you are on these 3 levels: are you at “fix today” OR “move up” OR “maximize growth”? If you’re in “fix today” mode, be careful and follow the advice of legendary recruiting guru @Lou Adler: “don’t make long-term career decisions using short-term information”. If you’re at level 2 or 3 and I can help you “move up” or “maximize growth” please let me know.