Top-Grading for salesThis is what transforms job-hunting from a drawn-out frustration to a quick success.


This blog offers a few insights to help shorten the search, maximize income and separate you from the pack.


Bradford Smart and Greg Alexander wrote a book called Top-Grading for Sales: World-Class Methods to Interview, Hire, and Coach Top Sales Representatives. Its goal was to help sales leaders cut through garbage and target true ‘A’ Players. Utilizing these themes, I’ve compiled advice for those who want to be seen as ‘A’ Players. 


‘A’ Player Interview Strategy

‘A’ Players are confident. They’re bold, and they take risks. It’s no surprise why they often see success. This is the mindset you should take into your job hunt. Below are a few of the main examples of how you can convey this quickly to employers:


1)      Bring your W2 earnings from your last couple years in sales (or your best sales years). This takes moxie. It’s not an often-utilized strategy. As a result, you’ll stand out. You’ll also answer any lingering questions that interviewers may have about your previous performance. With this tactic, you’re making their job easier – another way to crack open the door a bit further.


2)      Request to see the W2s of their top 2 and bottom 2 performers. This will give you a feel for how you compare to their sales team. You’ll have more information and more ammunition throughout your interviews. Information is a strong ally, and is one you should leverage whenever possible.


3)      Provide bold references. Every hiring manager would love to talk with the former supervisors of job candidates. Every warm candidate will have their list of personal references, basically stacking their deck. For a real game changer, bring the contact info for all of your past supervisors or managers over the last 5 to 10 years. This sends the message that you are confident in your abilities and have nothing to hide. 


4)      Be prepared.  There are a fewkey components you should know before interviewing – know the job scorecard, core competencies, and 1st year accountabilities. If you don’t have them, or haven’t seen them, ask for them. This shows that you are serious about the new position. Simply being engaged throughout the interview process will greatly differentiate you.     


Think Like a Hiring Manager / Employer

“Think in terms of the other person’s interests.” –Dale Carnegie

Think as if you were a sales leader. You’re given a certain budget, and charged with running a successful department. Every quarter you’re constantly under pressure to meet your sales target. Any unnecessary expense or costly mis-hire puts you further behind the 8-ball. 


The following chart shows the major hit an organization (and sales leader) can take with just one crucial mis-hire.


mis-hire costs employer


Putting yourself in this mindset offers a lot of clarity during the interview process. Asking and answering questions through this lens helps put the employer at ease. You’re not just in this for your own interests. You have the best interests of the employer’s organization in mind as well. This type of approach takes much of the risk out of the equation for the employer.


Incidentally, below is the cost to a sales rep that has been unemployed for 33 weeks. 


mis-hire costs sale rep


If you are seriously in the market, (or a hiring manager looking to separate the wheat from the chaff), then you will want to check out the Top-Grading Interview Prep Guide. It provides detailed guidance on top-grading for both employers and sales reps.


Click Here to Download the Top-Grading Interview Prep Guide.


For example it can help you:


1)      Prepare for common, as well as uncommon, sales interview questions

2)      Think in a way that will align you with the hiring manager

3)      Differentiate yourself from other applicants

4)      Assess your own professional performance

5)      Gain valuable perspective on mis-hire costs to the potential employer and you



I would love to hear from you if you’ve had an experience related to Top-Grading.