Sunday, July 19, 2009

Organisational Behaviour - Poach Reproach

The not-so-good side of recruiting off competitors.

Key learnings:

  1. Poaching has its advantages
  2. But recruiting off competitors is not always a good idea

There are reasons why poaching is a successful way of filling critical vacancies. And there are also reasons, other than legal, why recruiting from one’s competitor is a huge mistake. This is particularly true when salespeople are poached or snared away from one’s archrivals, as this approach to filling vacancies is ridden with land mines. Unless organisations know how to avoid them, the best thing to do would be to avoid such recruiting! This mailer tries to expose a few recruit-from- competitors myths, so that organisations can tread cautiously.

Why snatch or snare?

Good salespeople are as rare as snakes in Ireland! The pressure to cover a large ground and numbers is so immense that organisations would not be bothered about orienting or training those who are new and inexperienced in a particular type of selling. Other than paying lip service to training and encouraging salespeople to refer to bulky and shoddily documented sales guides, there is little that most organisations do to equip their sales force. But this does not mean organisations do not understand how detrimental poor sales teams can be to business.

Therefore, it appears that the quickest and the most ‘logical’ approach to building a good sales team is to recruit someone who is already doing the job well. However, this approach of bringing rivals’ men across will not do much good for organisations because many of their assumptions are only myths.

Myth 1 The more insular and complex the industry, the better it is to recruit insiders.
As one analyst rightly says, “No one came out of the womb mastering your industry.” Recruiters need to understand that such a belief is only shaky. However, there are certain specialised skills and knowledge that salespeople require to serve in a particular industry. Instead of taking newcomers through the entire gamut of training, equipping them with those special skills and knowledge is a better approach than recruiting salespeople ‘with similar experience’, only to realise they are worse mismatches than freshers.

Organisations bent upon recruiting individuals with relevant industry experience should understand the challenge of scalability. Organisations cannot fit in all or could afford all! This inward recruiting trend can keep talent pipelines dry and make referral programmes a waste of time.

Myth 2 They will bring their clientele across.
Given the ‘rolling stones’ trend, no one raises an eyebrow when people jump jobs. In fact, employees with 3–5 years of tenures have become an oddity! Even customers understand that employee loyalty has a changed definition these days. Therefore, assuming they will follow their ‘trusted advisor and friend’ is unrealistic. As marketing observations go, customers once hooked to a brand or product, are likely to remain more loyal to it than a salesperson to his organisation! Moreover, someone who could bring in his clientele could also take them away when he leaves the organisation.

Myth 3 Recruiting someone who works for the big guys is a good thing for small enterprises.
This only works when both enterprises are identical in their operations. And even if they do, a fact worth considering is that no two organisations have analogous sales cultures. Therefore, the assumption that someone who has done a similar job well in a bigger organisation will also be successful in a smaller set up is incorrect. An expert says, “A synergistic match between your company and the candidate is needed to put together a long-lasting sales marriage.”

Another incorrect assumption is that salespeople will carry forward their passion into the new job. While passionate salespeople are a driving force, those who jump jobs frequently do not remember what to be passionate about! “Salespeople who bounce from company to company in the industry become ‘vanilla’,” says an observer.

Even when full-fledged training isn’t a possibility, infusing newcomers with passion should be a primary objective of on-boarding. Some will argue that the surest way to infuse passion is to train well. However, there a few other things that can trigger passion when there is no training.

They include:

  1. Telling a salesperson that he has been chosen specially for a product launch
  2. Asking a salesperson to become a role-model for others
  3. Making a salesperson in-charge of a team soon after on-boarding

Myth 4 Those recruited from big companies will blend into their new roles with ease.
Sometimes, the real reasons for recruiting from competitors are laziness and the inability to train. While the latter is understandable, laziness is not. The lack of drive to scout for and select the right talent leads organisations into believing that recruiting experienced hands from one’s competitors will give them ready-made salespersons. But the truth is that when someone comes on board, he needs to be trained in ‘the organisation’ s way of selling’, no matter where he worked before, and for how long.

The above beliefs are common in organisations. Being a little worldly-wise should help them steer clear of the myths that affect their recruiting.

Ref: TheManageMentor.

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