Three Ways Sales Management Can Move ‘C’ Players to ‘A ‘Players

October 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Over 73% of ‘C’ Players never make their quota and 68% ultimately leave the company (usually not voluntary). With those almost insurmountable stats, why should Sales Management even bother working with ‘C’ players? Shouldn’t you spend your time with your ‘A’ players?

Because 15% of them turn out to be your best ‘A’ players. Coaching them is extremely important.

The first step is 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?

You need assess your team.  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 example, if sales approach is a competency used for your sales people; use an approach like the one shown below:

a players sales management

c players sales management


By answering a scenario based question or by you observing them 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. Be a jerk.  Yep, lets face it, they should be fighting for their job.  Don’t be mean but hold them accountable for the above metrics.  Not sure of what to do?  Here is a guide:


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.

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 Skillset using our "A" Player Trait Scorecard to set a solid foundation for a highly skilled team.   

The “A” Player Traits and Scorecard

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Topics: Sales Performance Management, Sales Leader, Sales Management, sales coaching, Sales Manager Resources

Posted by Dan Perry

Dan Perry
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