By Joe Ryder
Congratulations! You’ve just convinced a successful account manager with deep experience in your field and a large book of business to join your sales team and finally put your business over the top. I am truly sorry to burst your bubble but, no you didn’t.
Like Aladdin’s Lamp, The Frog Prince and other fairy tales, the Goose that lays Golden Eggs is a myth. I know you felt that if you could hire an experienced, well-connected, high caliber account manager, you could blow your sales numbers off the chart. So you sought out, you courted, you wined and dined and made offers and promises. If they were any good at all they’ve stalled you for months. If they seemed eager that should’ve been a major red flag. Yet the lure of a ready-made producer is hard to resist. The fact that I have gone down that road multiple times is a testament to that fact. In nearly 20 years of sales experience I can’t recall ever seeing that strategy pay off. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Why would a successful sales person leave their current employer in the first place?
The short answer is – they would not. As much as you genuinely believe that you’re the greatest manager and your company provides the best solution, you really need to put your ego aside and be skeptical of “top talent” willing to risk their livelihood. Unless you provide a product or service that is vastly superior compared to what they are currently selling why would they take a risk? (And by the way, if your offering is vastly superior, why would you feel the need to bring in high-priced talent?)
2. You will have to overpay to entice someone to switch.
This is the only real answer to number 1 above. Overpaying by definition benefits only one party. Guess what, it’s not you. Paying more, especially in base pay, is certainly no guarantee of increased revenues. Let’s face it, if they only have to work half as hard to make the same money why wouldn’t they do it. Good for them, bad for you.
3. Would a company allow a competitor to steal away a true rainmaker?
Ask yourself this question, “If one of my top account managers was to resign, what lengths would I go to in order to retain them?” A good manager in a good company would already have formulated possible reasons a top salesperson would consider leaving and preemptively address them. If a company just lets a “top performer” go, there is usually a reason. And you’re about to find out what it is.
4. Not all customers will automatically switch vendors to stay with a salesperson.
As much as selling is about relationships, many customers will resist making a vendor switch. This is especially true if the product or service provided is embedded within the customers operation. Moreover, you can bet that if a customer’s account manager was to leave, your competitor will send another rep in right away to assure them that they will receive the same amount of care and attention that they have been accustomed to.
5. Beware of poisoning the well.
Consider the effect on your current staff. Giving perks to a new hire may arouse resentment and (intentionally or not) expresses a certain lack of appreciation for the work they have done. If they don’t start seeing some golden eggs lying around the office soon, disenchantment will only deepen.
Of course there are always exceptions, and you may have found one, but they are rarer than hens’ teeth. Mitigating circumstances can factor in your favor (location, perks, benefits, promise of future mobility) but are typically farther down the list compared to a salespersons ability to make money. And let’s face it, you want a sales person motivated to make money. But take heart, you may not have a ready-made sales machine, but your wishes may yet be granted. Next week part 2: Best practices for hiring and training a sales staff.
-Joe Ryder, Sales Director