Jen is the unicorn seller and everyone is enchanted by her rainbow-colored sales skills. She has lots of techniques and strategies which help her close deals. You want Jen, but she’s from the competing company and just in time, you heard that Jen wants to jump ship. This is your dream come true!
You think of Jen and you automatically think of all the clients she’s bringing along. It’s a whole list of clients and deals closed left and right. Your company will be making money and you’re going to hire more people due to expansion. Jen is the answer!
As a top-performing sales rep, I was once Jen, too. I’ve had my fair share of being lured by other companies. I know how it feels to be offered something and to be on the receiving end of the decision whether to hire the top-performing sales rep or not.
Before making that decision, here are some things that you need to consider.
Why are they leaving?
We make decisions out of desperation sometimes, especially if money is included in the picture. When your sales aren’t doing too well and you need the pipeline, you want people who can bring the money in. Even if you’re snagging them from the competitor.
You present them with a good 401k plan, you say all the nice things to convince them to jump to your company, and you tell them how fantastic your company’s culture is.
You need to assess the situation seriously before making a hiring decision. These are some of the questions that you can ask yourself:
- Why are they leaving the company?
- Are they a problem in disguise? Are you willing to take that risk?
- Why would they come to your company when they’re already making tons of money in their current company?
The answers to these questions will help you understand their reasons and see if they’re a fit for your company’s values.
What did they do for the competitor?
In Mark Weinberg’s book, The Sales Management Simplified, he pointed out the need for sales leaders to consider what the salesperson did for the previous company. You need to consider whether they sold at their last company.
It is important to know the system of how their previous company worked. Find out whether they were tasked to find their opportunities or the opportunities were given to them. You need to be specific about the things they do well.
What if the person you hire hates prospecting? After three months of work, you see no progress because that salesperson never had to prospect before and now she is having a difficult time. This situation is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t fit. It will never work.
Many sales leaders and managers are lured into this kind of situation because they focus on the number of opportunities they will generate or the business they can get from their competitors once they’ve hired the top-earning sales rep.
But this isn’t always the case. You must remember that contracts are of two kinds: the long-term and short-term contracts. Jen, the unicorn seller, might be able to sweet-talk some of her clients into coming with her to the new company, but clients with long-term contracts will be staying in the previous company until their contract ends. When it does, you’ll need to coax them into coming to sign with your company. It’s a long process and it takes patience.
If that’s the case, you need to be upfront and figure out how much business Jen can bring over. Ask her how much business she is bringing along.
Talk about the numbers and figure out how you can convince the clients to jump from their current company to yours. Think of the agreement structure and find the solution. Figure out if there’s a non-compete.
All of these things must be considered before you bring Jen along.
Take Tom, for example. I worked with Tom before and wherever he went, his clients tagged along with him. But that isn’t always the case for some clients who are in long-term agreements. People love Tom and he would often bring a couple of businesses with him to the current company. He is a great salesperson, but even at his best, he still can’t bring all of his clients along with him.
The fourth thing to consider is the culture of the company. Will the salesperson fit with the culture of your company? Will your sales team like the new person you’re bringing along? Is there bad blood between them in the past, perhaps like client stealing? It is challenging to fit in and adjust to the ways your company works right away.
The new salesperson you’re hiring must be willing to follow the culture.
Have the adult talk and orient the salesperson to the ways of your company and how things work. Give her some time to adjust and if it still doesn’t work, then be ready to cut losses and move on.
Do not toss money on something that doesn’t work.
Have a contingency plan laid out in the event that Jen, or whoever you are hiring, doesn’t work out. You can think of some other way of increasing your sales by bringing somebody else. Maybe instead of the top seller, you hire the most experienced one.
A person with experience may not bring tons of businesses along but they come with an understanding of how to operate the business successfully. Perhaps you can hire someone who may not be Jen but who fits right in the culture of your company with proper coaching.
The last tip is to interview the prospects before hiring them. Grill them to make sure that they can do a great job. Do not cut corners and skip over the interview process. You must listen to the team and to the other executives before making the big decision.
Going back to Jen, even if you really want to hire her, try to disqualify her just as much as you want her. If you see her desire to work for you, that’s when you know that she’s a perfect fit. That’s when you know that you found your unicorn.
In my experience, the unicorn rarely exists. If it does, consider the tips I mentioned above.
“The Unicorn Seller” episode resources
This episode is brought to you in part by Sales Success Summit.
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