1. Additional headcount—With time to hire at 3 months and time to first sale at 6.5, you only have 1 quarter for their results to impact the top line in 2012. Not a good option.
  2. Improve Existing headcount—Take your existing team and make them more productive. Good option.


If you ask a sales manager about the importance of sales training, they will always respond and say it is critical. However, when you dig in and ask what is being done, there are gaps all over the place. If done right, a sales manager can pick up the 12% they need by improving their ‘B’ players. We believe ‘A’s should always be given the most attention and close to that are ‘B’s that can become ‘A’s.


Mitigation Plan—A  sales training programs that moves ‘B’ players to ‘A’ players has 4 components


  1. Classification– Define what an A/B/C player is in your organization. This should be based on what what they do (results)and  how they do it (competencies).
  2. Customization-You must have a tailored development plan focused on competency gaps. See the attached visual for the 4 key elements to a development plan


    Sales Training Competency Chart


  3. Consistency-Sales Managers need to ensure there is consistent reinforcement to develop B’s into A’s. The keys to the various forms of learning
    • Field rides—get in the field at least 4 times per quarter with all ‘B’ players
    • Role Plays—spend at least 2 hours per month in the classroom on developmental items
    • Education—ensure your team is reading and learning from outside sources
    • Peer to Peer—allow your ‘B’s to lean on ‘A’ players for peer to peer demonstration

  5. Cadence-Sales training cannot be an event. It is not a quarterly thing. It is an every week thing. The sales leaders that move the middle make skill improvement part of their daily routine. They never miss an opportunity to help their B’s progress.


Call to Action-


  1. Level Set–Pull out last year’s development plans and review them for completion.
  2. Simplify—work with each ‘B’ player on 2 competencies they need to improve upon in Q1 of 2012 using a simple template like the one provided.
  3. Commit—set a goal to move 50% of your ‘B’ players to ‘A’ players by the end of 2012. This is the true sign of your leadership.


2012’s results are dependent upon your sales training program’s ability to move the middle; if you are looking for a few talent management tips to help you get started, click here .


What is the most productive activity you have used to develop ‘B’ players into ‘A’ players?


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Matt Sharrers

Studies and works with the top 1% of B2B sales and marketing leaders who generate above average revenue growth for their companies.

Matt is arguably one of the industry’s most connected, and physically fit, sales leaders. He “lives in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. Because of Matt’s unique access to the best sales talent, private equity investors tend to turn to him first when they need to hire remarkable leaders to unlock trapped growth inside of their portfolio companies. Matt’s recent engagements include work commissioned by private equity leaders Permira, TPG, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.


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