Why do your sales figures start declining almost immediately after a key salesperson leaves?
A client will only repurchase from you with or without a salesperson’s assistance if the perceived value of your brand has already been established.
A brand is simply a mental shortcut for clients to speed up the decision-making based on the following four characteristics: Uniqueness, Relevance, Consistency & Emotional Engagement. These four cornerstones of branding must be present in all 4Ps of your marketing strategy which is; Product, Place, Promotion & Price.
If taking away a salesperson results in immediate decline of sales, it could mean that your company`s branding was strong only at the sales point and not the 4Ps, so the brand advocacy initiatives promoted your salesperson for being unique, relevant, consistent & emotionally engaging as opposed to your product/ service otherwise he/ she could not sell anything for you after all.
In this case, the real question boils down to how that specific salesperson engaged with your customers while he/ she was working for you; rather than what he/ she did to your customers after leaving the company.
If your product, the place you chose to promote it, the promotions you offered to make it look more appealing, and the price offered vs the market’s perceived value was unique, relevant and consistent, let alone emotionally engaging, then taking away the salesperson should have the least amount of impact on your sales figures.
But if your key sales personnel were supposed to compensate for brand’s shortcomings through their own personal competence, then unfortunately you may have lost that market all together by losing your super salesperson simply because both your product & the brand, in this case, are in fact that key sales employee and not what you are holding in your hand.
What to do next? You can do what most people do when looking for a shortcut– look for another branded salesperson, start off with new clients and repeat the same mistake, or god-forbid, do the hard thing and try to build your brand from scratch.
Hiring back the sales personnel who left you is usually the worst possible option, considering the damaged rapport factor; relationships are built and nurtured to growth not glued, mended or repaired.
A Common Pitfall in Sales Management
A common practice when planning to bypass NBD expenses is to hire experienced sales: those with 10 or more years of relevant market knowledge and established clientele.
Here is an example of required qualification for a typical sales vacancy advertisement:
*** Qualifications ***
University Qualifications: BSc
Previous Experience: At least 10 years’ experience as sales engineer in an Industrial Automation Company
Other Skills: Self Motivated
So what is wrong with this common practice you may ask? It is common knowledge that most sales employment contracts include an NDA clearly stating that product, market, and client information should remain confidential 5 or more years after the employee leaves the company. What would be left of a business if a salesman took its clientele along with pricing details to a competitor? You might as well send your CTO over and shut the shop close for good.
The second problem with this practice is that it literary destroys the market. Here is why; Mr. X with 10 years of highly relevant experience and a long list of dedicated clients joins your salesforce. He goes back to his good old buyers with your better offer so he closes the deal. What happens next is not a surprise to me or anyone who has worked in sales for as little as 6 months; The buyer allocates %20 of his existing requirement to Mr. X as his first trial order.
Meanwhile the competitor who has also hired some new sales, contacts the same buyer asking for reorders in which case he gets %80 of the requirement if he can match his new rival’s price and so the price-fight breaks out because while the required quantity has remained constant, the number of suppliers fighting over it has doubled resulting in supply/ demand imbalance working in favor of that particular buyer.
But this tragedy does not stop here: Mr. X having learned his lesson in greed, blames the new company for his mistreatment and lower than promised commission so he jumps to a third wagon thus bringing in yet one more supplier! Most industries have become stagnant not because of the economy or geopolitical uncertainty but because their leaders fail to realize that the days of sailing your ship away to discover new countries and rich continents have long passed, so it is no surprise that …
new opportunities and markets are created by developing new ideas, needs & concepts.