How to Sell a Job to “A” Players

Some Common Characteristics

Contributed by Dave Peterson, Managing Partner
Direct Recruiters, Inc.
October 17, 2006

You are probably familiar with the 80-20 rule relating to a Sales Division: 20% of the salespeople produce 80% of the business. The 20% are an elite group, among the best in their profession and referred to as “A” Players. They provide a performance premium to their employers through sales closed, customer service and internal morale. Identifying an “A” player is not difficult, however, selling the idea of a new job and company to them is often challenging. Why? Because they have choices and are sought out by employers all of the time.

Since there is a high demand for this select group, you will need to develop a capture strategy that revolves around a winning value proposition. But in order to create one, it might help to understand what makes the “A” player tick. As a veteran recruiter, I have found that they share some common characteristics:

Self starters. “A” Players are low maintenance employees and can complete their work with little supervision.

Culture fit. The best of the best are able to work well within the company structure and environment.

Well-liked. “A” players often serve as motivators for co-workers and staff. They have a positive effect on the internal morale.

Super resourceful. Star performers are creative and seek new ways to achieve positive results.

Go the extra mile. “A” level professionals do not settle for mediocrity. They strive for excellence.

Taking these characteristics into consideration, it’s time to develop a capture strategy. Once again, key will be your value proposition. According to Geoffrey Moore, Marketing expert and author of Crossing the Chasm, your value proposition should answer the questions asked by consumers: “Why should I buy this?” and “Why should I do anything at all?” Selling a job to an “A” player is exactly like selling to a discerning consumer. You will require compelling and persuasive answers and actions to these questions. I suggest the following:

  • Position your company as THE employer of choice. A reputation for being the organization to join can be the single largest influence in the buying decision.
  • Gear your infrastructure to help “A” players continue to succeed. Let them know you are flexible and open to new ideas and business practices that will yield positive results. Also, convey and/or demonstrate how you acknowledge and show appreciation for a job well done.
  • Invest in developing a relationship. “A” level candidates want to be wooed. Spend the time and effort required to help them build familiarity and trust in your organization. Be accessible and encourage open and regular communication.
  • Ask about their pain. It’s important to find out what they need but aren’t getting from their current employer. However, keep in mind that “A” players usually have a high tolerance for pain so their ache may not be surface level.
  • Offer a lifestyle. Since “A” players stay at jobs longer than the average worker, they are looking for more than a paycheck; they seek a lifestyle. It may be of interest to note that money rarely attracts their attention. More likely, it’s a balance between family, work, and fun.

So here’s the point: Selling a job to the “A” player is core to your business success. This is not hyperbole but reality. And if you accomplish this, you will have won the talent war.

For more information, contact Dave Peterson, Managing Partner (216) 464-5570 x111 / fax (216) 464-7567/ e-mail /