Review: Topgrading for Sales

I have long been a fan and proponent of Brad Smart’s Topgrading approach to hiring. Whether or not you achieve the 90% A-Players of which some adherents boast, it is a thoughtful and effective approach and it helps eliminate haphazard hiring practices.

Brad Smart has joined with Greg Alexander of Sales Benchmark Index to write an indispensable guide to applying Topgrading practices to the sales force. The books is, of course, titled Topgrading for Sales: World Class Methods to Interview, Hire and Coach Top Sales Representatives.

First, one of my favorite mistakes:

Your sales candidates are experienced at selling, and the product they are selling in the interview is themselves, so their product knowledge is better than yours. They understand buyers like you, because they’ve worked for sales managers. They know the sales manager’s motivations and needs, and they try to manipulate the interview to hit his or her hot buttons. Sales managers are frequently  . . . well. . . desperate. If their territory is growing or they are replacing an underperformer, they are eager to get someone on board.

If half of the mishires I have personally made had sold their prospective clients as aggressively and passionately as they sold to me during the interview, they would not have been mishires–they would have been superstars.

This thin little book is deceiving; it is really 54 pages of explanation as to the process (and I would recommend purchasing the original Topgrading), and 51 pages of Appendices. For my money, the Appendices alone are worth many times the cost of the book.The Appendices include all of the tools you need to Topgrade, including a scorecard, key accountabilities, a career history form, an interview guide, and a reference checking guide.

I recommend (demand, really) you add it to your book shelf and your toolkit. Also visit the Topgrading for Sales site, Brad Smart’s Topgrading site, and Greg Alexander’s Sales Benchmark Index site for more information.

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