In sales, “A” players typically attract a disproportionate percentage of management attention, incentives, resources, and pats on the back. It makes sense: leaders want to do all they can to attract and retain these high achievers – they can make the difference between a company hitting its numbers and missing them.
But don’t let your fascination with “A” players cause you to shortchange the middle tier. According to consolidated wisdom from many industry experts, the long-term performance of companies is grounded in the unsung commitment and contributions of “B” players. In fact, these capable, steady performers are the best supporting actors of the business world.
“B” players counteract the charismatic, sometimes volatile A’s with their stability, solid work ethic, and consistent contributions to company performance. They are steady performers who don’t want (or need) attention, often place a premium on work/life balance, and keep the sales machine running through turmoil in the market and changes in the company.
But, like all employees, they need nurturing and recognition. Without recognition, most “B” players eventually begin to feel they’re being taken for granted. They disconnect from the soul of the organization and start to look for jobs elsewhere. Losing a solid “B” performer in this way is a failure for any organization.
Here are four sales management tips to keep in mind when it comes to bolstering your “B” players.
Tip #1: Accept the differences. See your B’s for who they are – and see the important contribution they make to your sales team. Coach and recognize them for these important differences.
Tip #2: Give them your time. Track the time you devote to each person on your sales team. Do “A” players get too large a share of your attention? Do you pay too much attention to certain squeaky wheels and not enough to those with their heads down, working hard, and not asking for anything? Check that your day or week includes regular interaction with your entire team.
Tip #3: Reward solid performance. “B” players tend to get fewer promotions and win fewer awards, so recognize them in other ways. Even just a handwritten note to thank someone for a job well done can pay huge dividends in loyalty and performance.
Tip #4: Offer job choices. While A’s are groomed for management roles, there is often little thought given to the long-term career paths of B’s. Look for opportunities to “promote promising employees sideways” within the company to give them genuine career choices while keeping them – and their solid track record of performance – in the organization.