First-year attrition of sales reps in our industry is 80 percent,which means that only one in five makes it to the first anniversary. Recruiting analysts say that, if 50 percent of your new (never-sold-Radio) hires in Radio make it 12 months, you're a genius. I would prefer percentages more in my favor when it comes to success.
Playing into the attrition percentages is the low initial pay that we offer new sales recruits.This attracts the poorest fruit on the tree; while industries, such as the pharmaceutical business, pay large salaries and provide company cars for their reps.
Given this scenario, the question becomes, "Should you cross the street and raid your brethren, or build a staff from no-experience Radio sales reps?" The "from-scratch" staff might be your best bet in the long run, but unfortunately, because we are a month-to-month industry, we tend to want immediate gratification. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of raiding your rivals.
REASONS TO LOOK ACROSS THE STREET:
- They bring clients with them: In most cases, a rep with any previous experience in your market can bring some business with them. This is good for their initial start-up, and it gets them out of the gate quicker.
- Short ramp-up time: Most rival reps can immediately hit the streets and start selling, whereas new rookies take anywhere from 90-180 days to establish themselves.
- Credibility: Picking off one of the top reps from a competitor can lead to others that might follow. In some cases, entire sales staffs have changed companies to build a new station.This also could give the station championship experience, which is lacking in many inexperienced hires.
- New blood: Competitive hires can bring new ideas and new ways to attract business. Changing your sales staff DNA can lead to high energy and give current staff a wake-up call.
REASON TO LEAVE THEM WHERE THEY ARE:
- They look good on paper: You can date someone for five years but, until the day they move in with you, you really don't know them. The same thing applies with your competitors' reps. They might look good on paper with their current account lists, but until they start selling your station, you can throw away the track record and resume'.
- Bad habits: As you haven't trained them, you don't know what you are getting until they show up. Many rival reps bring lazy or inferior sales techniques with them, depending on the culture of and training by your competitor.
- Credibility: A few days ago, they were throwing your station under the bus. Now, they are extolling the virtues of your product. Does this make sense?
- Non-competes: Smart competitors have noncompete contracts.This protects them against raiders. These can be tough to fight and can be long, drawnout battles.You may use non-competes as well, so it's smart to keep the battle lines intact so your people will be immune against your rivals.
When hiring rival reps becomes the perfect fit culturally and sales-wise, it's usually when the rep has had similar clients and/or has sold similar demos and comparable formats. One word of caution: A new rep could throw your staff into chaos by sharking accounts.