Key to Hire A Players – Use a Virtual Bench


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You lose a top performing rep and quickly go into a mental tailspin. You think about the ramifications and logical course of action.  Questions surface such as:

  • Can we salvage the relationship with the rep and keep him/her from leaving?
  • Is it too late for a counter offer?
  • What will happen to their sales and customers?
  • Will this affect our ability to make the number?
  • Are they truly worth keeping, or are we better off without them?
  • Are there other reps thinking about leaving?

And the list goes on.  This scenario plays out regularly for companies of varying size. It is particularly challenging for small to mid-size firms. In some cases, the loss of a rep may create a ripple effect.

Unfortunately, January and February are chronic months for turnover due to reps waiting around for yearend commissions and bonuses.

As a CEO, you may be thinking this isn’t your problem. Instead, this responsibility should fall to your head of sales. You’re partially right. However, when you miss the number, or turnover rates soar, this becomes the problem of everyone in senior management.   

What can you and your team do about it? One option is to create a plan around developing Virtual Benches. Cultivate and nurture potential candidates along their buyer’s journey.

Virtual Bench Toolkit


Use the Virtual Bench Toolkit to get started. The process is approximately as follows:

  1. Identify your top 10 “A” player candidates
  2. Map where each is in their individual ‘Buying’ Process – meaning, “buying” in to your company and the role you are offering
  3. Begin nurturing them as you would a new lead and help them understand the benefits your firm offers.
  4. Feed them with quality content about your company and the position. Regularly inform your candidates of their status.

Sales Candidate Journey


If you’re new to the concept of a Virtual Bench, it’s similar to a recruiting bench for a major sports franchise. Team scouts are always on the lookout for quality players to draft or acquire in free agency. The dialogue begins well in advance of a player making a move or a vacancy appearing.

The next section will provide a breakdown of how the Virtual Bench will work for your organization.

The Virtual Bench of Sales Reps



  • Each sales leader (manager and above) needs to identify 10 or more actual rep prospect candidates.
  • Each sales leader should have 10 influencers who they can call upon. These influencers should be contacts whom you have made a part of your professional network. More than likely, they aren’t interested in the position themselves, but willing to recommend potential candidates.
  • Thoroughly engaging in each of these activities will result in the beginnings of your own Virtual Bench.


  • Reduce the unknown and mitigate risk by incorporating influencers. We all prefer to make purchases based on referrals and word of mouth advertising. The same is true with recruiting and hiring.
  • Save money and time. This process is cheaper and more effective than using recruiters or online employment sites.
  • Find candidates with integrity. Through your Virtual Bench, you are less apt to deal with resume and background falsification. This is largely due to dealing with candidates on a one-to-one basis. According to, 53% of resumes and job applications contain falsifications. 

Best Practices – refer to the Virtual Bench Toolkit for the full list of 15+ best practices.

  • Create reciprocal (give and take) relationships with influencers. Refer candidates or dream clients to them to receive the same in return.
  • Enlist the help of your management team, existing A players, customers and business partners in sourcing Virtual Bench players.
  • Maintain a regular cadence of nurturing candidates. Find a schedule that works for you, and stick to it. Touching base and staying top of mind shouldn’t be underestimated.

Creating a quality Virtual Bench takes time. However, it will speed up the process of hiring ‘A’ players on the backend. Keep in mind: early and often. This is how your recruiting should take place. Developing your Virtual Bench isn’t a one-and-done activity. Each member on your team with a Virtual Bench needs to cultivate and nurture candidates on a continual basis. Sticking to this process will help to ease the pain when ‘A’ players are lost. It could also help to prevent a ripple effect by making the transition easier company-wide.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joel McCabe
Joel McCabe serves as a Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies exceed their revenue targets.


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