One Type of Salesperson You Should Think Twice About Hiring

Kristin McLeod by

Want to poach sales reps away from one of your biggest competitors? Sales management strategist Lee Salz explains why that may actually be the last thing you want to do.

In many companies, executives dream of hiring top sales talent away from their biggest competitors.

The vision is that those candidates — because they sold a similar product in the same market — will bring their book of business with them and won’t require any training or onboarding, leaving those executives with plenty of free time to perfect their golf game.

Unfortunately, rarely does that dream come true. In fact, according to sales management strategist Lee B. Salz, success is anything but a guarantee and can even turn into a nightmare.

Why Poaching Sales Reps from Your Competitors Can Be a Bad Idea

“The presumption is that a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and sales style will naturally transfer between competing companies,” says Salz, whose new book, Hire Right, Higher Profits: The Executive’s Guide to Building a World-Class Sales Force, takes a deeper dive into this topic.

Lee Salz“The reality is that the factors that lead to success or failure vary from company to company — even within the same industry. Company culture, market position, and sales support are just a few of those factors.”

— Lee Salz, Sales Architect

Then, there’s the somewhat bogus theory of bringing the book of business.

While it’s true that top sales candidates often boast impressive rolodexes, it’s dangerous to assume that prospects and customers will change suppliers for the sole reason that the salesperson changed business cards.

“Changing vendors isn’t exactly a simple exercise and most customers won’t follow a sales rep just because they like that person,” Salz explains. “So, if you’re hiring a salesperson away from a competitor thinking it’s all of a sudden going to double your bookings, you’re probably in for a rude awakening.”

“Before you consider candidates, take an introspective look at the role and identify the factors that lead to success or failure. Evaluate candidates against those performance factors whether they have prior experience or not” Salz says.

Additional Sales Hiring Resources

Do you agree with Lee? Has stealing sales reps from your competitors ever blown up in your face?

 Photo by: Flazingo Photos

Senior Digital Marketing Manager

  • Chris Beall

    Dead on, Lee. In 35 years I can’t say I’ve ever seen this ploy work anywhere close to the dream – usually unrealistic expectations followed by one excuse after another.

  • Gordon Mueller

    Agree 100%. With your competitions sales people, the interview process is always clouded by accomplishments and claims which usually turn out to be over stated or just not true. And, the important questions never get asked, and references never get checked as thoroughly as they should.
    When performance falls well below the minimum standard, managers fail to dismiss these new hires out of embarrassment, they rationalize their existence, and allow them to stay on in the hopes of some miraculous turnaround. In 35 years, I’ve never seen this happen, but their presence erodes the morale of your top producers which may take years for your business to recover from. My advice… follow Lee’s advice.