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4 Myths of “A Players”

Sales Training Article: 4 Myths of “A Players”

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

One of the foundations of CustomerCentric Selling® is codifying selling behaviors of the best salespeople (“A Players”) to enable others to emulate calls that they make. Based upon a Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) survey, we say about 13% of salespeople are “A Players.” A recent Miller Heiman survey concluded 8.5% of sellers are “world class.” In my mind there are some misconceptions about “A Players” that I’d like to share with you.

sales training workshop#1 – “A Players” can sell to any industry.

I believe “A Player” behavior is situational. For companies having a wide variety of verticals, they will often find their top performers get the majority of their revenue from specific industries that they are familiar with. An “A Player” that is very familiar with Manufacturing might struggle to be as effective with a Financial Services company.

#2 – “A Players” are effective selling to all titles.

In many cases, “A Players” have worked in verticals (sat on the other side of the desk) and therefore relate very effectively when calling on those titles. If they came from Operations they would likely have a harder time calling on people in Finance, Marketing, IT, etc.

#3 -Why not just hire all “A Players?”

“A Players” are selective about organizations they want to join. Painting with a broad brush, they are less likely to migrate to large organizations that are guerillas in their spaces. In my mind such organizations typically “grow their own” top performers. Their comp plans, high degree of structure and longer windows for promotions won’t be as attractive as earlier stage companies or start-ups. “A Players” also have egos and like to be recruited by senior executives enticing them with equity for performance.

#4 – “A Players” don’t need process.

As talented as they are, I refer to “A Players” as “unconscious competents.” By that I mean they are extraordinary at what they do, but every sales cycle is different because they rely largely upon intuition. They are “winging it” and sometimes may skip steps that should be covered. The top performer of the first CCS® client shared with me that he was able to close 50% more business by more stringently qualifying (more accurately disqualifying opportunities that weren’t worthy of his time).

Having a process to codify “A Player” behavior should benefit the entire sales organization. More importantly, putting a sales process in place can make revenue generation more predictable by applying consistent qualification criteria to a company’s entire pipeline.


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