Companies that outperform their peers are simply better at attracting and retaining “A-Players.” They grow revenues and profits by pulling two key levers: ease of buying and ease of selling.


Ease of buying equates to lower customer acquisition costs. Buyers identify their needs and qualify solutions before the sales team shows up. Once the sales team engages, completing the qualification and negotiation phases of the buying journey are straightforward; value is evident and transactions are seamless. In the simplest commercial relationship, the buyer is able to reach a consensus and execute with minimal selling. No confusing licensing agreements or contracts block the consensus necessary to cut the check.


Ease of selling means the productor service has a compelling value proposition that is easy to relate. The seller understands the challenges customers are seeking to overcome and can clearly demonstrate what customer success looks like. Topgraded talent is not selling products or services. They’re selling customer success—an outcome that’s readily understood by both parties.


This monetizes lifetime value for both buyer and seller.


Several top-performing companies identified chief differentiators for attracting and retaining topgraded sellers, starting with management:


  1. Management team: The No. 1 reason “A-Players” come to work for you is your sales management team. It’s also the reason they leave.
  2. Territory potential: Next is sales or territory potential. One question an “A-Player” asks early in the interview will be, “What’s the territory potential?” The response can be broken down into two components: territory and compensation design.
  3. Leadership focus: Third, do leaders focus on customer success or profits, sales, or culture? Whenleadership spends more time communicating customer success, these stories become tools that make it easier to sell.
  4. Other “A-Players”: Topgraded sellers want to work with other “A-Players.” Those “A-Players” will attract more of the same.
  5. Marketing: Further down the list for topgraded sellers is marketing, which drives sales-qualified leads that account for 25 percent to 44 percent of revenue.


SBI’s research spans over a decade, covering 11,000 companies and 22 industry verticals. While researching this topic, we identified standout companies that were outperforming their peers over a three-year period. We interviewed and then surveyed sellers, selling managers, and selling executives in those firms to secure the insights reported here.



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Mark Miller

Conducts research and provides guidance to leading B2B firms, enabling them to make their number.
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As a principal at SBI Mark is committed to ensuring our clients make their number so all our families can live the ideal life we want for them.   Prior to SBI, Mark founded a global consultancy, growing that business to $3MM in a little over one year, scaling across three continents.  Prior to that, while at Cisco, he held global executive roles in marketing, sales and product management over a 13-year career.  During that period, across Cisco’s emerging markets and in North America, he developed multiple Chairman Award winning account teams as well as two new products and several services. Prior to Cisco, he served as Vice President of Refining and Marketing for Coastal Corp; managing refining, logistics, and marketing operations across the eastern United States growing the business at a 40% CAGR.

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