Salespeople leave, but how much of their business follows?

Recently, we asked this question. It has generated a lot of commentary via our LinkedIn groups. Below are some responses that we felt may interest you.

When a salesperson leaves their employer, what percentage of their business follows?

Having a book of business helps, but it should not be interpreted as a guarantee that business will follow. There are many variables that play into this.

Two issues- how strong is the sales associate’s relationship with his/her clients and does the new organization’s product suite provide relevant value? With all due respect to great sales associates – companies are typically reluctant to change strong vendor relationships simply because the sales associate has changed uniforms

I’ve worked in 5 different industries as a rep, manager, president and ceo – and I can tell you that trying to buy business by hiring a sales rep with a book of revenue that you believe fits your needs is rarely successful.
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Any rep worth her salt respects her last employer too much to basically steal business away from them, and hurt all of her former co-workers in the process. Do you want an employee who is prepared to hurt you later doing the same thing to you?

Any company worth it’s salt has a non-compete arrangement with successful reps so they can’t steal away the business. So you need to be sure anyone you hire from a competitor is free and clear as well.
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Hiring reps is the absolute hardest part of any business leaders job. At my company I would meet bi-annually with up to 70 other presidents to share best practices and help solve each others problems, those meetings would last 3-4 days. My experience with that group demonstrated conclusively that 70 other business leaders had the very same problem, finding and hiring good reps who would bring real potential to the company. More often than not the reps who looked the most likely to succeed had a history of bouncing from one job to another (so don’t hire reps who have had 3 jobs in 4 years!) – they would look great because they had diverse experience, and they would claim to have revenue to bring immediately. Only one time did I see a company president hire a great rep who did bring the business they claimed they could. The rest of the time the reps either failed in the short term, or brought only 30% or less. Conversely, when reps left these companies they did not take more than 30% of their business with them.
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