How to Increase Your Odds of Hiring a Superstar

By Heather Baldwin

Here’s an interesting statistic: 72% of the top performers in 178 U.S. companies say their #1 motivator is financial gain. Sound like a no-brainer? Sure, but think about it for a minute – if you hire people who aren’t motivated by money, the odds of them becoming one of your top performers are pretty low. That’s because their values are simply not aligned with the demands of the job.

There are, in fact, six different values that drive us, according to Barrett Riddleberger, CEO of Resolution Systems, Inc. ( and author of Blueprint of a Sales Champion: How to recruit, refine & retain top sales performers (Ratzelburg, 2004). Here are the six values.

1. Theoretical value. This refers to a person’s drive or desire for knowledge. Salespeople with strong theoretical values are concerned with presenting themselves as strong knowledge resources for their clients. They are motivated by acquiring and imparting knowledge.

2. Economic value. This measures the drive for financial gain and a practicality of thinking. Salespeople with a strong economic value take a practical approach to securing financial gain. Generating more and more wealth for themselves drives them to search continually for the next big moneymaker.

3. Aesthetic value. This measures the desire for form and harmony. Salespeople with strong aesthetic value seeks out and appreciates the moments in life that are balanced and symmetrical.

4. Social value. This measures the desire of people to give of themselves to other people, even to their own detriment. Relationships are highly prized. Salespeople with strong social values seek out the individuals to whom they feel most connected.

5. Political value. This measures the desire for power. Salespeople with strong political value see competition and risk as challenges to overcome. They also want control and influence and they want others to know how successful they are.

6. Regulatory value. This measures the desire for rules. Regulations and principles have deep meaning. Salespeople with strong regulatory values are most comfortable in settings where authority is established and honored.

Sales champions, says Riddleberger, “almost always place a high level of importance on the economic value and the political value.” Therefore, to find a champion you need to find people who are driven by making money and who want to be in charge of their own destinies and call their own shots. Then you need to give them that latitude. Design your interview questions to determine what motivates candidates and then hire the ones motivated by money and power even if they have less experience than other candidates, Riddleberger advises. Remember, you can always train them to sell; you can’t train their intrinsic values.

If you’re still leaning toward a candidate who doesn’t have strong economic and/or political values, here’s one final thought to consider. Salespeople whose values are stronger in categories other than economic and political values won’t necessarily disappoint you but their probability of meeting your expectations is much lower. Making money “is simply just not why they get up in the morning,” says Riddleberger. When you can find someone who gets up to make money, you’ve got the makings of a champion.