In business, what are the pathways to growth that come with the least resistance? One that has been used over and over again is that of the competitive salesperson – someone who understands the space, the prospects and the possibilities of growth.
Why are you, as a brand, attracted to this category of salespeople?
Statement: They talk an amazing game. “Did you know that I was the No. 1 salesperson at your competitor’s brand?”
Reality: I have never met (I know there are a few) leaders who don’t do everything they can to hold on to an amazing salesperson. The exception to the rule would be maximized growth potential, an event (sale) or a new CEO who is dumb enough not to examine data.
Statement: They have a pipeline. “I have tons of people who would be interested in buying your brand because they didn’t buy my last brand.”
Reality: Perhaps, but most likely not. Unless you are selling something that fits perfectly into an existing box (like a product line where connections are king), a pipeline for a brand is a pipeline for that brand – meaning I, as a prospect, am interested in that brand and not yours for a reason. I wouldn’t completely discount the value of a pipeline of connections, but a pipeline of potential sales is risky.
Statement: They are disgruntled with your competitor. “They just didn’t get it there – and you get it so much better. This is a company I could see myself growing with.”
Reality: If they are disgruntled with their previous company, chances are they will become disgruntled with you. I don’t know if a cancerous mentality is correctable in the workplace.
Statement: It’s the CEO’s fault. “Their expectations were too high. There was no way that brand was going to reach its growth potential.”
Reality: It probably was. This is one that is fairly universal, but you should take a good look in the mirror to understand this one. CEOs rarely look at true sales data to create predictability around accelerated growth. Last year they sold 10 deals, this year they expect 30. Fair, but what happens to the budget in that situation? It remains the same. False expectations do create bad sales tactics.
And, at last, the complaint. You cannot undo poor sales tactics. Who creates these? Well, lazy salespeople plus misaligned expectations. The guaranteed result is dissatisfaction on both sides.
Salespeople are too simply bucketed, too. There are salespeople who are amazing at selling under a process, but not as great as building a process. And there are development pros who are great at creating a process but aren’t as great at selling. Sometimes, a unicorn is found who is good at both.
So, can a competitor’s salesperson perform for your brand? The answer is not that easy. Sales is not as simple as one, two, three. It’s a complex situation.
Part of the reason leadership gets frustrated with bad sales tactics is that they are not invested in creating good ones. Veteran salespeople sound attractive, and they can be if the process/sales operations process is sound. When those are not aligned, it creates chaos.
Would I hire a competitor’s salesperson? In 99 out of 100 scenarios, probably not. Knowing what I know, would I rather invest in creating a strong process around an inexperienced salesperson (even though it’s hard – unless you leverage $$$ – to keep them)? Absolutely.