Note: Names have been changed. The parent company declined to permit the name to be used due to a company policy of not endorsing products or services.

Although in a recession in which all sales forces in the industry were selling less, I’m confident that our Topgraded sales force sold much more than if we hadn’t Topgraded.
- Pat Smith, Regional Sales Director

The Company: PharmaSales (Fictitious name)

No. of Employees: 50 (Sales division of Global Pharma)

Industry: Pharmaceutical Equipment


  • Improved from 33% to 75% sales representatives hired turned out to be A Players.
  • How to hire top performers at low ($45k) salary base.
  • Excellent sales rep job scorecard.
  • Details of estimated cost of mis-hired sales rep to be over $1 million.
  • Excellent graphics for sales and turnover results.

Company History:  PharmaSales, Inc., is a fictitious name of a company specializing in wound closure and related products. Pat Jones (fictitious), Regional Sales Director, introduced Topgrading methods for hiring Sales Representatives, beginning in the mid-2000s. The region has 45 sales representatives.

Topgrading Methods:  The parent company hiring methods were retained, with three Topgrading methods added to address major problems in hiring: dishonesty (too many people lie on their resume and in interviews); completeness of information (candidates have control over what they reveal in short competency interviews); and verifiability of information provided (reference checks are perfunctory and of limited value).  The Topgrading solutions implemented were:

  1. Candidates are repeatedly told that a final step in hiring is for them to arrange personal reference calls with former sales managers. (This inspires honesty and discourages weak candidates from applying).
  2. The Topgrading Career History Form is administered (which requests full compensation history, boss ratings of performance, true reasons for leaving employers, and much more, for every full-time job).  The Topgrading Snapshot, a 1-page visual portrayal of the sales rep’s total career performance, efficiently screens out weak candidates, assuring that only the best candidates are interviewed.
  3. A tandem (two interviewers) Topgrading Interview was conducted with all finalists; this four-hour, chronological interview covers 16 basic questions (plus follow-up probes) for every full-time job.  Every important aspect of a candidate’s career is scrutinized.
  4. Personal reference calls with former sales managers are conducted, arranged by finalist candidates.  These provide excellent verifiability of all the information leaned about finalists.

Topgrading Results:  The percent A Player sales representatives hired increased from 33% to 75% and forced resignations declined from 14 to 2.  Pat Jones (again, fictitious name) was promoted in 2012.

Furthermore, the costs of mis-hiring  $45,000 base salary sales representatives have plummeted.  The average cost of a mis-hire was determined to be over $1 million.

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