The B2B buyer landscape has transformed faster than many on your sales team:


  • Your buyers have changed how they make purchase decisions
  • Mapping their buying process (BPMs) has become a necessity
  • Navigating the buying decision team (BDT) is required to win
  • Your reps need to sell the way your buyers want to buy


Changes in the external environment should have you thinking differently about internal factors when evaluating talent. For a guide to build a bench of A-Player talent, download our workbook and turn to pages 285 – 293 of the PDF to review the People Plan phase.


Legacy sales reps have not kept up with the times. There is a shift happening in the sales world. The requirements have changed. A new ‘A’ player rep has emerged. To make the number next year, you need the ability to hire this rep.


This post teaches CEOs how to plan to recruit ‘A’ players to make your number. It also includes the CEO’s Guide for Hiring New ‘A’ Players. The guide will give you a process to hire new ‘A’ players. 9 Steps to ensure your sales leaders bring in top talent.


Planning for New ‘A’ Players


Your first step towards improving the sales force is defining excellence for your team. These are defined as ‘A’ player competencies. They are the attributes the best reps possess that will ensure your success. Examples of modern ‘A’ players include:


  • BPM Recognition – The ability to identify where a buyer is in their evaluation process.
  • Navigating the BDT – The ability to enable champions and get the collective ‘Yes’ from the executive buying decision team.
  • Sales Process Execution – The ability to sell the way a buyer wants to buy.


These are now non-negotiables in the modern world of hiring ‘A’ players. If your sales leaders are asking for more headcount, they must seek these qualities. Review these items with them before they start recruiting. These are covered in more detail in our research session.


Hiring New ‘A’ Players


The process of hiring ‘A’ players is critical. Interviews are not just for you to assess potential talent. ‘A’ players are assessing you too. Modern ‘A’ players are in high demand. They can take their skills just about anywhere. The cost of the wrong hire can be $1M. You can’t afford to start next year with the wrong talent. You will miss the number.


3 Critical Steps to Hire Modern ‘A’ players:


  1. TopGrading for Sales Interviews – Scenario-based interviews to validate the rep possesses the competencies of the new ‘A’ player. In a controlled environment, can the candidates articulate excellence across the required competencies? Your sales managers must vet this out before offering candidates the job.
  2. Job Scenario Tryout – Real-life scenarios to test the true capabilities of your candidates. The TopGrading for Sales interviews provide a controlled environment. The Job Scenario Tryout forces the candidate to think critically in a real situation. Can they think on their feet? Will they be able to hang in the real world your reps face every day? Don’t let your sales managers skip this step.
  3. Reference Interviews – 60 minute interviews with 3 former bosses of your candidate. These are deep dives into their prior work, successes and failures. Must be done with a former direct manager. You’ve seen the rep in the interview. You’ve put them through the live-fire scenario. What does the last guy who managed this candidate have to say? Do all three data points stack up? Where are the gaps? Your sales managers need to this feedback to make great hiring choices.


Looking through these three lenses is invaluable. It takes time, which is okay. Hiring slowly is the right approach. If you haven’t already, you should start now to help plan for next year. Your chances of making the number will increase.


Building a great team is critical to your success as a CEO. Your sales leaders are focused on making the in-year revenue goal. This is important, but they often make hasty hiring decisions as a result. As the CEO, you can help your sales leaders by giving them this framework. Help increase your chances of making the number by hiring modern ‘A’ players. Download our CEOs Guide to Hiring A Players.  If you need more help sourcing A-Players, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. To request a workshop with Dan Perry, our talent development expert, simply send us a note.


How to Make Your Number in 2017


Tom Maloney

Works with clients to improve sales force effectiveness and reduce customer acquisition cost and increase customer lifetime value.

Prior to joining SBI, Tom was the Vice President of Sales Operations for the Uniform Services Division at ARAMARK. He was also Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a recycling and waste collection organization and spent over 15 years in the petroleum industry with Atlantic Richfield and Texaco. He brings significant expertise in sales, marketing and operations leadership. Tom also has changed legacy sales organizations, turned around underperforming departments and consistently built high performance teams in both sales and marketing. He develops customer loyalty marketing campaigns that improve customer retention, reduce client turnover costs, and increase year-over-year sales. He has built multi-million dollar strategic partnerships and business building programs with most major US-based consumer products companies


Tom has earned multiple awards, some of which include: Univator Award for innovation, Super Star President’s Award, The Greatest Piece of Marketing Content Award.

Read full bio >