15% of your 'C' players are diamonds in the rough that with the right coaching will perform as 'A' players.

Did you know that with the right coaching that 15% of you ‘C’ turn out to be your best ‘A’ players? Coaching them is extremely important. The first step is to find out how many ‘C’ Players you have on your team.  And how do you find these ‘diamonds’ in the coal mine that can become ‘A’ Players? It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. The Revenue Growth Diagnostic interactive tool will help you determine if you are likely or unlikely to make your number.


Why should you care?   ‘A’ players generating 5x more revenue than “B” players and 10x more than “C” players.  You need assess your team to rank your reps.  Obviously quota attainment is the easiest predictor of grading an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ player.  However, there are more important metrics to consider:


  • Call Activity
  • Close Rate
  • Sales Cycle Length
  • Average Sales Price
  • ‘No Decision’ Loss Ratio
  • Selling time allocation


Measurement of these key basic metrics, along with your assessment based on sales competencies, should be your first attempt to assess your team.  For each competency required, construct scenario based questions for them to answer or for observing in the field, it will allow you both a quantitative and qualitative assessment.  Without this type of analysis, you will let your personal ‘bias’ towards the person play in the decision to devote precious resources (your time) to the ‘C’ player.  You must remove this ‘friendship’ bias when assessing your team.  Loyalty, effort and camaraderie are important.  But how important is it at the expense of lost revenue and your job?


Three ways to move ‘C’ players to ‘A’ players:


  1. Look in the mirror.  Is this person your ‘friend’ and you don’t want to let them go?  Are they a long term employee who you feel loyalty to?  Is he or she a ‘good’ guy?  Over 38% of lost productivity in a sales force are those ‘C’ players who are not effective anymore.  I have resigned from organizations just because of this ‘political’ environment in which executives protect these ‘C’ players.  Resolving this issue in your company is the most important and most difficult in assessing, deciding and working with ‘C’ players.  To net it out, will your boss let you terminate this person?


  2. Get them off the couch.  You must increase their selling time.  What is selling time? Customer or Customer related activity.  Think of going on a sales call vs. doing an expense report. How much time do they actually sell?  World Class ‘A’ player spend over 73% of their time selling. Increase a ‘C’ players call activity.  When their selling time increases, funny things start to happen.  The increased customer interaction means more personal rejection for the sales rep. It means using selling skills.  It means more on the job learning.  And it will quickly help you determine what ‘C’ player is actually worth your time and attention.


  3. Push Them.  This may require you to be jerk.  Lets face it, they should be fighting for their job.  Don’t be abusive in any way, simply hold them accountable for the metrics.  Not sure of what to do?  Here is a guide of what to expect to keep things focused on objective performance and avoid getting personal:


  • Metric
    • Minimum required activity


  • Call Activity
    • No less than 5 customer interactions per day


  • Close Rate
    • Must be at least 35% (Benchmark numbers have this in the Percentage in the bottom quartile)


  • Sales Cycle Length
    • No MORE than 25% above the average for your sales force


  • Average Sales Price
    • No LESS than 25% of the sale force average


  • ‘No Decision’ Loss Ratio
    • No MORE than 25% of the sales force average


  • Selling Time Allocation
    • No less than 60% of their time


You must be sure to set these goals and monitor them.  After 3 weeks, you will know if you should work with them on a continued basis or begin the exit strategy, which includes sourcing a new sales rep to fill their role. The key is consistent upgrading of talent.  It is a process that never ends.


Once you have applied coaching to your ‘C’ players and you haven’t seen improvement, then it’s time to act.  Review this recent article titled; 3 Reasons ‘C’ Players Must Go.

If you would like help with this subject, come see the SBI leadership team in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio typically results in getting 3 months of work done in 3 days. The immersive sessions accelerate everything, dramatically reducing the time it takes to diagnose a problem, develop a solution, and create an implementation plan.



Upgrading ‘C’ players is difficult.  Just ask Paul McDonald.  I hired Paul as a sales manager and placed him in our worst performing district. He had 7 ‘C’ players out of 7 total team members. His team hit only 25% of quota the year before. Their closing rate was the lowest of 175 sales teams.  A week on the job he called me up to resign.  But instead of quitting, Paul made a commitment.  He decided to hold himself and his sales reps accountable to the exact same principles above.  So, a year later Paul’s team was the top performing district in the company.  He fired 2 of the 7 reps, hired 2 ‘A’ players and took the remaining 3 sales reps to Presidents Club.  He coached the ‘C’ players either up or out.  Paul now has left that company for a big VP of Sales promotion.


Do you have ‘C’ players on your team?  Do you want to upgrade your team?  Identify “A” Player Skill-sets by downloading and using our “A” Player Trait Scorecard to set a solid foundation for a highly skilled team.


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job





Dan Perry

Intensely focused on helping sales and marketing leaders in B2B companies make their numbers at SBI.

Dan approaches the idea of making your number from a unique perspective. Like many SBI leaders, he has walked a mile in your shoes. He comes from the industry side and has had to make his number to be successful. Perhaps this is why it’s wise to rely on SBI’s evidence-based methodologies. Though SBI is certainly an execution-based firm, Dan only implements strategies and solutions for his clients after they have been verified with before-and-after data. This leads to adoption of sales programs in the field, rather than shelf-ware.

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