Poaching a talented sales rep from one of your biggest competitors seems like a phenomenal idea – they’ll able to bring in big business, they already know the industry inside and out, AND you’ll be dealing a tough blow to the competition’s sales. It’s too tempting a scenario for many sales managers to resist.
However, if you do entice a sales rep away from another company, it may not produce the results that you imagine. If you think all you have to do is put a phone in the rep’s hands and wait for the deals to roll in, that’s probably not going to happen. There are a number of reasons you may want to think again before offering a job and a raise to a competitor’s best sales rep.
Training Won’t Be Minimal
If you’ve successfully hired a rep away from a competitor, you may think it’s not necessary to invest significant time in onboarding or training the new rep. After all, this is an experienced salesperson with a proven ability to bring in big business for your competitor. However, sales training isn’t just about sales or industry knowledge – it’s also about learning how to sell for your specific company.
It’s possible that your sales process is vastly different from the competition, with many more steps or different stages. You may be more insistent on CRM usage, or have a different method of assigning leads or territories to your team. A new rep also might not know how to use your systems or sales tools, or they could misunderstand your core value proposition and target customer. These are all things that require training and time to learn, even for an experienced rep.
Customers Won’t Always Switch
When you steal a competitor’s sales rep, you make sure the agreement includes the rep bringing their entire rolodex of industry contacts with them. This is a huge part of the appeal of the hire, because you assume you haven’t just snagged a rep from the competition, but you will also be able to take away a few customers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Customers choose a B2B provider for a number of reasons, and it’s not just about the skill of the sales rep who closed the deal in the first place. Your competitor’s existing customers may be satisfied with the service they’re getting, or may feel loyalty to the company, not the sales rep. You can’t put too much stock in the ability of this new rep gain your company a much bigger market share. You may find that it’s better to go after new prospects instead of poaching customers.
Skills May Not Transfer
Just because a sales rep was very successful at another company doesn’t mean those skills will easily and simply be applied at your company. Sales talent can be an ephemeral quality, and tactics that work at one company can completely and unexpectedly flop at another.
If you hire away a sales rep who doesn’t fit the profile or personality type you usually hire on your team, be cautious. It could mean that this person is not a great fit for your team, despite all their past success. A combination of your company culture, the new product, or a different target market could make selling challenging for the new rep. This can lead to frustration and disappointment, especially since this sales rep was the top dog at their previous company.
So before you try to pull a competitor’s sales rep into your company, check your assumptions. If you’re not prepared to thoroughly train the rep, if you’re relying on them to steal customers, or if you think their skills will work anywhere – think again. Before you hire that rep, consider their real skills objectively, and maybe you’ll find you’d rather hire someone else instead.