Every company is different, and a salesperson who is a perfect fit for one company may be a bad hire at another. Many people who sell successfully for other companies may not sell well for you.
I once worked with a newer company that spent well into six figures to hire a top-performing salesperson away from the industry leader. This organization was excited for the new hire to use his relationships and close many new, large accounts. The salesperson expected to settle into the same routine he experienced with his previous employer.
Both the company and the salesperson had a rude awakening.
First, the high-level relationships the salesperson spoke of during his interview belonged to the upper-level executives at his previous company — not to him. Second, he discovered there was a big difference between selling for the market leader versus the underdog. Without the name recognition of the industry heavyweight, the seller needed to approach prospects in an entirely different way. With no experience doing this he was like a newbie, trying to figure it out as he went and too often getting it wrong.
Unfortunately, it took this company nearly a year and a half to face the reality that this salesperson was not a good fit — 18 months of lost sales, missed opportunities, and more than $100,000 invested with a hire who wasn’t right from the start. Worse, the connections he did make weren’t the right connections for the company. It was an expensive and painful lesson for everyone concerned.
This situation didn’t happen because the salesperson was a bad seller. On the contrary, he was incredibly effective when working for an industry leader. But, the skill set and experience that made him successful there did not translate to working for an underdog company.
When you’re looking to hire someone from the same industry or a competitor, don’t judge a book by its cover. Dive a little deeper into the selling situation that exists at the potential hire’s previous company and see if the same selling situation exists in your company. If it doesn’t, this may not be the best hire for you.
Remember the adage, “The stronger the brand, the weaker the sales team. The weaker the brand, the stronger the sales team.”
Your sellers are your ambassadors, and they generate your revenue. It’s worth doing your homework to make sure you get the hire right.