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Executive Coaching: Why Can't We Have All "A" Players?

WHY CANT WE HAVE ALL “A” PLAYERS Have you ever heard sales managers when talking about their sales team say, “Well, we can’t have all “A” players” or “he/she is a good “B” player and they can’t all be top sellers”? So my question is, why?

If a sales manager maintains a strong talent bank, “hires tough and manages easy,” hires only talented sellers, checks references in advance, makes sure there is a fit, and then maximizes the talent on hand in their coaching, there is no reason a staff cannot contain all “A” players. 

So how do you do this? Try these 5 steps:

1) Maintain a strong talent bank. You should spend at least 5% of your week recruiting. For most managers, a 50 hour work week is not excessive. So spend 2 to 3 hours each week reviewing screeners, checking references, networking, or doing face to face interviews. Don’t have time? You can’t afford not to have the time if you want a staff of all “A” players.

2) Hire only talented salespeople. The Sales Talent Interview has been proven time and again to be able to reliably and successfully identify talent for client's of The Center for Sales Strategy. Why use your proverbial “gut” or rely on word of mouth from people who really can’t identify sales talent anyway when you have an instrument that is proven?

3) Check references. And check many of them. Don’t just call people an applicant has given you as references or their previous boss who can’t tell you anything anyway. Check with their clients, peers, friends, your network, former bosses who now can give you information, etc.  And for younger candidates, check with professors, faculty advisors, peers, etc. There are going to be times when a hiring must be kept “hush hush,” but the reality is that is happening less and less in today’s environment of non-competes.

4) Make sure there is a fit. Does the candidate fit with your sales culture, your company’s culture, your current sellers, and YOU as their boss? Do they have the level of maturity, intelligence, desire, and social skills to do the job?  

5) Maximize their talent! On occasion, sellers fail because they do not receive the proper guidance from their immediate supervisor. Learn what makes them tick and where their talents are and help them to be the best they can be. The next worst mistake that someone with talent, who doesn’t develop it, is a manager who has talent on their team and doesn’t maximize that talent. 

You may not be able to have a team with all “A” players immediately but over the course of time as your non-A players leave, replace them with only “A” players. Eventually you can’t help but have all “A” players!       


One of the most important things you can do as a sales manager is raise the bar on the overall performance you will accept. 

Learn more about how you can analyze performance and improve it! 


Jim Thompson is a VP/Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.

Topics: Management, sales management, Talent, Sales