We read a lot on the sales blogs and in articles about A, B, and C players. Those pieces have covered various methods, learning approaches, and tools for transforming C's into B's, and B's into A players.
We have a strong view at ESR about this subject. With the right approach, time, and support, you might be able to get a B player to an A level. But you won't get a C player past the C level.
How can I say that? It's a matter of defining the terms. We know that the best approach for recruiting and selecting, as well as ongoing sales force development, is through a foundation of job profiling and competency mapping. We also know that salespeople can, under the right circumstances, improve their skills significantly. On the other hand, the personal traits with which they are born are, for all intents and purposes, immutable. You can't train or coach someone whose DNA prevents it to be intelligent, analytical, resilient, driven, charismatic, courageous, passionate, curious, goal orientated, or have any other of the many traits required for success in B2B selling today (depending on the specific job).
Sure, you can support C players with resources, such as special attention and extra time from management, but empowering them to own and manage their territory and drive maximum profitable revenue from it will forever be a challenge.
What then is the difference between an A player and a B player?
In general terms, the A player has more of the skills, behaviors and traits required for consistent performance than the B player, and their numbers support that fact. On the other hand, the B player may have all the traits of an A player, but not the all the skills or behaviors. (That's where training and reinforcement comes in.) Or they may have many of the required traits, but are deficient in some ancillary ones, or perhaps their required traits aren't to the level of the A player. Therefore some B players can become A's and some are just not able to.
What does all this mean to you?
First, you're going to have to figure out what skills, traits, and behaviors are required for success in each job category within your sales organization and map your existing personnel against that list, so you can formulate the appropriate development plan going forward. Second, you'll want to redeploy your C players into some other role inside (or outside) your company, over time. Third, you'll vow to never to hire another C player, because if you do, you'll be stuck with them.
Photo Credit: © Jim Barber - Fotolia.com