Finding a salesperson with the right energy, drive, culture fit, and productivity is tough, tough, tough. It’s tempting to do what I did early on in my career and hire my competitors’ salespeople, but as I wrote about in a vintage post on my Inc. magazine column, NOT hiring my competitor’s salespeople became an ironclad rule for me. Here’s why I don’t recommend it.

All The Usual Reasons

Hiring away from competitors looks like sound business. I fell for it many years ago when I was recruiting salespeople for my messenger delivery business.

“I had the usual reasons for hiring my competitors’ salespeople. I figured they would save me time and money. After all, they already knew the business–in this case, messenger delivery–and so I wouldn’t have to train them. They could be productive from Day One.”

Well, they were more like trouble from Day One. I had numerous problems getting my new sales force in line with my company’s goals. For example:

  • They came with bad habits that I couldn’t break them out of.
  • They thought they knew more about selling my service than I did and wouldn’t listen to my directions.
  • They always went for the quick sale, which caused them to disregard my pricing guidelines and accept offers that I would never have approved.

With habits like that, these new salespeople didn’t fit in well with the culture that I was creating for my employees, and they were costing me money.

“I realized my competitors had good reasons for letting their ex-salespeople get away.”

A Better Alternative

At the same time that the salespeople I recruited from my competitors were causing problems, the people that I hired with little experience and trained up began to outperform their more experienced counterparts. They were also better team players. In the long run it was better to not take the easy way out – a lesson that I never forgot.

“Yes, it takes time to train your own salespeople, and you’ll wait longer for results. But I’ve learned there are no shortcuts. If you build your business to last forever, you’ll wind up with a better, more valuable company.”

You can read my article in its original form at Inc. Magazine’s website.