10 years ago
January 5, 2015

Using Head Hunters to Hire Your Competitors Top Sales People

Is it wise to deploy sales head hunters to hire your competitor’s top sales people? Here are a few things to consider.

Rhys Metler

Turnover rates on sales teams tend to be high, which unfortunately is also true for top sales people. In many industries, hiring top sales people who are working or who have worked for the competition is unavoidable, being a function of limited labor supply. So is it wise to deploy sales head hunters to hire your competitor’s top sales people? Here are a few things to consider.

The Risks of Using Sales Head Hunters to Hire from the Competition

The top reason that organizations give for being wary of using sales head hunters to target top sales people working for the competition is the risk to their organization’s reputation among peers. Especially in tightly knit industries, a top sales person moving from one competitor to another can be industry news, and damaged relationships can result. This can also invite the risk of:

  • Having your organization’s top sales people targeted for hiring in a retaliatory recruiting action
  • Hiring a sales person based on pedigree, rather than fit
  • Legal issues related to non-disclosure, exclusivity, and similar concerns

Furthermore, you may find that you are unable to match the compensation that a competitor is offering, which could result in losing a recruiting lead and possibly releasing your compensation strategy to a wider audience than intended.

The Benefits of Using Sales Head Hunters to Hire from the Competition

Many organizations that have hired top sales people from the competition using sales head hunters report that the best benefit from deploying this strategy is the reduced training and on-boarding from hiring an individual who is already intimately familiar with their industry. However, there are other benefits that sales head hunters who bring in interested candidates from the competition can offer, including:

  • Direct experience and interest in the industry
  • Access to new leads already interested in your offerings
  • Insights into new strategies and sales tactics

The Value of Using Sales Head Hunters to Hire from the Competition

When using sales head hunters, organizations can be protected from the appearance of appropriating talent from the competition since it is the sales recruiter who is targeting and developing these recruiting leads. An established recruiting firm with experience in these types of hiring strategies can help organizations avoid the potential backlash while acquiring the needed talent’s experience and skills. These sales head hunters will also be cautious to keep your organization’s identity confidential if desired, so that your recruiting strategy remains closely held.

In addition, whether or not your organization is actively seeking to lure top candidates from your competitors, the odds are good that a sales person who has worked or is working for your competitors will apply to an inviting opportunity with your firm. Although in this case it is the sales person who will make first contact, sales head hunters can still serve as the medium for making your recruiting an arm’s length transaction, potentially insulating your organization from accusations of targeting competitors’ talent.

The Deciding Factors in Using Sales Head Hunters to Hire from the Competition

The best way to determine the value of using sales head hunters to selectively target top sales people from the competition is to measure the value these sales people might bring to your organization over the value that sales people sourced from other avenues might provide. This depends on your organization’s immediate talent requirements and long-term recruiting goals, as well as the heightened value your organization might be able to offer to recruited talent over what they are currently receiving.

A sales head hunter who is familiar with your organization and industry can help you conduct this analysis and shed further light on the pros and cons of hiring from the competition, ensuring that you make your recruiting decisions on hard data that supports your organization’s goals.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.