Saturday, July 26, 2008

Topgrading for Sales Book Review

The Topgrading team sent me a copy of their newest book “Topgrading for Sales” to review. The book focuses on recruitment, an area in which I have very little experience. However, I think the book is relevant to this blog; incentive compensation is one way to increase your workforce performance, but at the root, it is important to hire top sales representatives.

When I first picked up the book, my first thought was - wow, this book is only 57 pages, 113 pages counting the appendix. However, when I opened the book I quickly realize that while it is small in size, it is heavy in content.

Topgrading for Sales promotes the Topgrading philosophy, to only hire “A Players” A definition of top performers and an explanation of the general concept is provided in the first chapter, and the following chapters detail methods to interview, hire and coach top sales reps. The appendix includes practical templates to topgrade your sales force.

Here is a quick summary of the proposed steps to increase hiring success:

  • Construct a sales rep score card to know which skills and attributes are required (what needs to be done)
  • Analyse your sales team and determine what your top performers have in common, as well as what your bottom performers have in common.
  • Create a list of prospects
  • Ask good phone screening questions (many good examples are provided in the book)
  • Screen finalist candidates rigorously
  • Perform a reference check after the interview and contact all supervisors in the past 10 years
  • Coach your sales reps regularly

This book is extremely practical. It provides many great tools and ideas to hire top sales representatives and the general concept can be taken beyond the “sales world”.

However if you don’t have prior experience in recruitment, other books will be required to build a solid foundation in some of the many areas touched by this book such as interviewing and coaching.

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Julien Dionne is a well-rounded consultant with global business management experience and outstanding technical, business and leadership skills. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and he is a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association. The views posted within this blog do not reflect the views of Julien’s current or previous employers and clients. Julien can be reached at