Successful Sales: What Makes an A-Player


It goes without saying that many, many salespeople are competent, yet relatively few are truly exceptional performers. The firm Zenger Folkman conducted a large study to identify the behaviors exhibited by A-Players, and understand how they differ from average achievers. The study is summarized in recent a Harvard Business Review Blog Network posting.

The study identified nine skills that are associated with A-Player outcomes, which are shown below in ranked order, starting with the most consequential trait. If you’re looking to improve your performance, the good news is that you don’t have to excell at all of these – improving in just a few areas, or even in a single high-ranked area, can make a big difference in achieving positive results. The blog posting goes into detail, describing each of these characteristics:

1. Set high standards and “stretch goals” that exceed what others think are achievable.
2. Seek out team-work and collaboration.
3. Step forward to represent and advocate for your team.
4. Embrace change – and, more specifically, don’t resist change.
5. Show leadership by getting involved.
6. Follow through on commitments you make.
7. Don’t “wing it”: use solid judgment that’s backed up by research and knowledge.
8. Show resilience in the face of challenges.
9. Be honest and be kind: make providing feedback a goodwill activity.

Click here to read the full HBR Blog posting.