"A-Players" generate 5x more revenue than "B-Players" and 10x more than "C-Players." A company can make or miss its number depending on the number of "A-Players" it has. As a CHRO, it’s critical to have Talent Programs that help retain your high potential talent.

Unemployment is at record lows, and the job market for talent has never been hotter. Even the most seasoned Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) get anxious, knowing their top talent is prone to be poached. As part of our routine assessment work, SBI often conducts ride-alongs with field reps. We are used to reps telling us they are weighing their options, but typically only hear this from A-players. Now it seems almost everyone we talk to has a suitor or two lined up (although we know sales folks love to embellish). Sales reps are being fawned over and courted in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. These reps know they have leverage over their employer.


Losing your A-Players has a crippling effect on an organization. Not only in terms of the time it takes to ramp new reps, but also on morale and culture. How do you, as a Chief Human Resources Officer, ensure you retain your high potential talent? What can you do to help your A and even B players see a path to reaching their full potential?


This blog will orient you to SBI’s Talent Strategy and, specifically, Talent Planning. Talent Planning is the secret to retaining your high potential folks.


How Does SBI Define Talent Strategy?


An effective Talent Strategy helps executives build and maintain great teams to lead their organization.  SBI’s Revenue Growth Methodology breaks down Talent Strategy into four categories.


  1. Talent Planning: A strategic plan that outlines the right things your company needs to do to effectively assess, recruit, onboard, develop, and retain a team of A-Player talent (where we will focus in this blow)
  2. Talent Acquisition: Develop the profile for an “A-Player” in each key revenue growth role. The primary focus is on Marketing, Sales, Customer Success (CS), and Customer Experience (CX).
  3. Performance Management: Produce an Individual Development Plan for each member of the go-to-market team that will reinforce the necessary behaviors to achieve high-performance.
  4. Talent Support Use the right technology to improve how you monitor and manage the performance of your talent.


There are three sections to SBI’s talent planning: Employee Experience Design, Talent Planning by Function, and Talent Programs. A CHRO need not look any further than Talent Planning to understand how to retain key reps. Talent Programs are organized around a performance-based nomination process.  They offer A-Player talent the opportunity to rotate into critical leadership assignments and ultimately be put on a Succession Planning path. Check out another SBI blog on retaining A players, which emphasizes the importance of identifying, nurturing, and developing A-players.


I have recently been on a series of engagements where turnover amongst A-players has been material. In each of these situations, we did a series of interviews with reps who have attrited. A common theme we heard was fear of “lack of progression.” You, as a CHRO, have an obligation to layout this progression for your talent and show them the next steps. SBI’s “A Player Sales Leader Scorecard,” which outlines the accountabilities and competencies of an A Player Sales Lead. Use it to identify how many of your Sales Leads are true A players.



Download the Sales Leader A-Player Scorecard Here


What Are Some Effective Talent Programs?


Talent programs help a CHRO create a culture of accountability and recognizes those who live by company values while excelling in their role. This allows an organization’s A players to see the investment in them and a path with formalized progression. Talent programs need to be well defined and sequenced throughout the year. This allows you to have constant lines of communication with folks that are central to the organization’s success.


The below graphic shows a talent program laid out over the course of the year. It lists the following (listed in order, with bullets showing frequency) and sequences them appropriately to ensure touchpoints.


  • Mid-year talent review
  • Talent Assessments/Performance Appraisals
  • Sales Org Design (right people in the right roles)
  • Management Training
  • L&D Enablement Cadence Setting
  • Succession Planning Cadence Planning
  • Career Path Planning and Design
  • L&D Curriculum and Planning


The above is an example of a YILO for the Talent Management team.  By plotting your talent programs and major milestones over a 12-24 month period, the organization will have the ability to execute the talent plan effectively. In this example, July’s “Management Training” will take place at the annual SKO.  This sets in place the timing for assessments and succession recommendations prior to SKO.


SBI Can Assist in Building Out These Plans


SBI has several deliverables that help address Talent Planning. Each of these are custom-tailored to the organizations we are working with. Some examples include:


  • Talent Program Plan
  • Organizational Culture Definition
  • Competency Self-Assessment Tests
  • Talent Program Communication Plan
  • Year-in-the-Life-of (YILO) Plan*


As a CHRO, it is critical to retain your A-players. An excellent place to start evaluating your sales force is your Sales Leaders. Use SBI’s Sales Leader A-Player Scorecard as a starting lock.


Download the Sales Leader A-Player Scorecard Here


Your job as a CHRO is to nurture your A players and make sure they reach their full potential. Are you sure you are doing everything in your power to make this happen? If the answer is not a resounding yes, you might want to consider visiting my friends and I at The Studio, located in Dallas, Texas.


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Geoff Schuler

Blends the classical approach to strategy with cutting edge data analytics to help clients make their number.

Geoff is an experienced management consultant with a heavy background in working directly with executive leadership to help achieve strategic outcomes. His experiences range from engaging full executive teams on corporate strategy development, to revamping compensation structures to align with firm  goals. Recently, he worked with the senior executives of a mid-size company to tailor financial assumptions, build, and present a pro forma model that depicted the impact an acquisition strategy would have on revenue and EBIDTA. The company followed the model’s guidelines as they executed on their strategy.


Geoff is a CPA and self-proclaimed data hound, whose demonstrated skill set includes: commercial due diligence, go-to-market strategies, market segmentation, competitive analysis, data analytics, development of M&A strategy & all related diligence, financial modeling, and compensation evaluation & restructure.

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