The Secret to Becoming an A-Player

Every sales organization has A-players, and they’re easy to spot.

The Secret to Becoming an A-Player
📷 Thearon W. Henderson | Getty Images 

🎧 Listen to the audio version of this post here.

Believe it or not, salespeople often ask,
"What is the secret to becoming an A-player?"

On one hand, they genuinely don’t know and want to improve their game. On the other hand, however, deep down, they do know, but don't apply what they know.

Look, every sales organization has A-players and they’re easy to spot:

• they’re the ones consistently hitting quota,
• giving their advice when asked, and
• leading by example.

Here's what's up: You can be an A-player, too. It’s already in you. Hack away at everything that isn’t A-player material. Act like an A-player and you'll become an A-player.

I wonder if Davide applied Ramit’s answer.

While you prepare to leave the B team (or, maybe for you, it's the C team), ask yourself if you’re ready to:

  • Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself
  • Pay less attention to goals and more attention to systems
  • Write and speak like a boss
  • Hang out with people better than you
  • Do the work no one else wants to do
  • Adjust your attitude
  • Perform at the highest levels and consistently deliver results
  • Do the right thing, especially when no one is looking
  • Raise your standards
  • Focus on winning (while others focus on being like you)

That’s just the short list. A-players possess characteristics and disciplines that would make your head spin.

A-Players Are on the Right-Side of the Curve

Often times, you’ll hear a sales leader say, “Wow, I wish I had twenty-five of so-and-so!” If they had their way, bosses would have an entire organization of A-players. The only thing bosses worry about is how much longer they’ll have their A-players.

I remember early 2016, when my friend, John Barrows and I spoke to audiences about how to turn core sales performers into top performers. We talked about the Vitality Curve, a model once introduced by the late Jack Welch of GE.

The Vitality Curve is composed of:

•  20% A-players (the high performers)
•  70% B-players (the majority of the group, the ones with potential), and
•  10% C-players (non-performers who enervate instead of energize)

Where are YOU on the Vitality Curve? Image: SIMCON

Every third of the bell curve comes with consequences:

  • Folks on the left-side of the curve, for example, face micro-management, performance improvement plans (PIPs), and job termination.
  • Those in the middle section of the curve need others to motivate them and require constant hand-holding and coaching.
  • A-players, however, are on the right-side of the curve - and usually not for long. They’re making the most money, getting recruited from other organizations, and are the ones earning the promotions.

Create habits and disciplines that will position you well on the Vitality Curve.

Warm-up Like Stephen Curry

Learn from A-players in other industries, like sports. For example, watch Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. His pre-game practice system is a lesson that... repetition is the mother of skill, what you focus on is what you feel, and you are what you repeatedly do.

Check out how Steph gets ready for each game:

You mean, he does the same exercises over and over before each game?

Curry drills the fundamentals: ball handling, shooting, and passing. In fact, he even taught a Masterclass on it.

How good are you at practicing the basics every day or every week? How badly do you want to become, and remain, an A-player?

For you SDRs out there (sales development reps), get great at drilling the fundamentals. While Stephen Curry sharpens his skills, start sharpening yours.

Here's a comparison chart that shows how Steph handles business, along with how A-player SDRs handle business:

What does your “pre-game routine” look like?

Ok, Stop Reading and Start Working

I hate to break it you, but there is no secret to becoming an A-player. In fact, those who ask already know the answer. If you seek A-players, it is A-players that you'll find.

Decide to develop A-player attributes. Concentrate on delivering results. Learn to communicate well. Differentiate yourself from the B and C-players in your organization. Demonstrate a work ethic like Steph Curry. Master the fundamentals, yet continue to practice them.

Master your craft. And the next time a salesperson asks what the secret is, I’ll let you answer.