Should You Hire Salespeople From Your Competition?

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Should you hire salespeople from your competition? After all hiring within the same industry sounds like a quick and easy solution, right? But wait. Before you put that offer letter on the table, you need to think twice.

Hiring within the same industry sounds like a quick and easy solution, right? It won't take as long to train them.  You can just give them a price book and have them call all their contacts from their old company.  You can just sit back and watch the sales roll in, right? Wrong!

Hiring Salespeople from Your Competition is Like Sports Teams Making a Trade

Selling has been compared to sports for years. So much so, that sales people have even often been called the elite athletes of the business world. The reason for the comparison probably stems from the fact that both professions are performance based, and that the incomes earned in each are in direct proportion to the ability to consistently overachieve.

When Teams Make a Trade, Only One Team Wins

Taking this comparison a step further then, hiring a sales rep from the competition is like an athlete changing teams in professional sports. Really only one team wins.

Sometimes, one team ends up paying too much for what ends up being an under-performing athlete.  Another team might happily trade an athlete to their competition because they think it would be better to play against them than it is to keep them.  Sometimes, even if an athlete is a superstar, they demand such a high price for their talent, or are on the team for such a short period of time, it just isn't worth it.

Be it by a trade or free agency, when a player changes teams, only one team ends up ahead. When you think about it, the same is true when a sales rep changes companies. Only one company wins. The real question is, Will it be you or your competition? Although hiring a sales rep from your competition can be successful, it is certainly the exception, not the rule.

Why Does The Salesperson Really Want to Leave the Competition to Work For You?

Before you put an offer letter on the table, you need to ask why the sales rep wants to move to you company in the first place. 

Are they really that superstar who is just looking for a fresh start fit through free agency? Or are they that under performing athlete who your competition is happy to get rid of in a trade?

So how do you really know if a sales rep hired from your competition can be successful with your organization? The key is how you screen your sales candidates. You need to dig deeper into why they want to leave their current employer. Ask questions like, 'Why do you want to leave?' and 'Can you give me specifics as to why your current employer is not a good fit for you.'

How to Recruit the Best Sales Professionals (Includes 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers)

    For more questions you can ask in the interview, download our free white paper, How to Recruit The Best Sales Professionals, including 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Sales Producers, from the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre.

    Do the Sales Candidate Have a Non-Compete Clause with Their Current Employer

    More importantly, you also need to make sure the candidate you are thinking of hiring has not signed a non-compete agreement with their current company.

    To paraphrase employment lawyer, Daniel Lublin of Toronto as seen in a TV interview, there is a misconception in the workplace that non-compete clauses are not valid. In the past, some of the stipulations in non-compete agreements were completely unreasonable. In recent years, however, the courts have given better guidelines on how to make these agreements enforceable.

    As such, employers who are thinking of hiring a sales candidate who is currently bound to a non-compete agreement need to do their due diligence. You may even want to seek the advice of a lawyer before making any offers of employment.

    The One Interview Question You Should Always Ask

    One of my best interviewing tips for sales recruiters when considering if you should hire salespeople from your competition is to ask one this very specific question.

    • What are the measurements of successful performance in your current position and how well did you meet them?

    In fact, I recommend you ask this same question about all the previous sales positions listed on the candidate's resume. After all, everyone can tell you they are a sales superstar. Anyone can say they want a new challenge with a company in an industry where they have experience. However, this question really helps you cut though the fluff. It will help you determine if the candidate actually has a successful sales track record or whether they were just blowing smoke.

    Should You Hire Salespeople From Your Competition – The Bottom Line

    There are definitely pros and cons to hiring your next sales rep from your competition. The bottom line though is that hiring from the competition may seem like the easiest way to find a new sales person, it will almost always be more cost effective to hire a person who has the right sales skills and then train them than to become the next top sales person in your industry.

    For more proven recruiting techniques, along with the automated tools to create your hiring process from start to finish, including designing your compensation plan, to placing the ad, to presenting your offer letter, check out my book Action Plan For Sales Management Success.

    Aim Higher!

    Susan A. EnnsB2B Sales Coach and Author
    Schedule a free sales coaching strategy session with Susan here.

    “… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”

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