How to hire a salesperson when a member of your team is leaving

Your top salesperson is leaving. What now?

Top salespeople are precious assets for any organisation. While a typical sales person often has skills that are transferable from one business to another, the best salespeople often have qualities that are in short supply.

So, how can you fill the void if your top salesperson hands in their notice?

First steps: Check the contract

Make sure you check their contract diligently – does the employee have non-compete or garden leave clauses included, and are they giving the notice required? Inform prospects and clients of the salesperson’s departure – approach top clients in person if possible, to ensure they are aware of what is happening and to protect the business relationship.

Conducting an exit interview at this stage is essential to ensure the salesperson is up to speed with their contract and any non-compete clauses. It is also important to establish what they are moving on to and what drove them there. Exit interviews provide a good opportunity to strengthen and maintain your relationship with the leaving employee – don’t leave things on a bad note! If they have been offered a better deal, or your revenue gap alongside recruitment costs stacks too high, it may be worthwhile in the long run putting a counter offer on the table. If this is unnecessary, or the counter-offer is unsuccessful, the next step is to work together to create a comprehensive handover plan to delegate responsibilities to other members of the team.

It is also critical to analyse any potential impact of the employee’s departure on the team – how much revenue will be lost to the team or business? Could there be a knock-on effect with other employees in the team following suit, or even being poached?


Finding the best replacement

The next step is to identify the best recruitment methodology for your situation. Your best sales employee leaving shouldn’t be perceived as an entirely negative situation, the resulting vacancy may become an incentive for employees to secure a promotion, or take on more responsibility – hiring internally should be your first point of call. Feed your business from the bottom up by promoting your next best salesperson, shuffling roles, and hiring junior sales executives who are eager for training opportunities and career growth.

If filling the position internally isn’t an option, then you may think about outsourcing your recruitment. When looking for external help it is important to consider that you will need to generate applications quickly, while also attracting the best candidates for the job.

While using a recruitment agency may seem like the most obvious option, briefing a recruiter takes time and it can also be an expensive process. Alternatively a fixed-fee recruitment service can ensure your advertisement is optimised for the search terms that your ideal candidates are looking for so applications arrive quickly, After posting your advert on a number of job boards, a flat-fee recruiter can also sift through applications for you and flag the top 20% of candidates, saving you time to run your business and only review the best candidates.

When recruiting externally, it’s wise to have stages to your interview process. Including behavioural style interviews and psychometric tests can help identify individuals with the resilience and tenacity required for a sales role. It’s also important to find a balance between skills and personality, so ensure shortlisted candidates have the opportunity to meet your team to see how they interact. This may also help with concerns about other staff following suit and leaving; including your team in the hiring process and making sure their opinions are heard will make them feel valued.


Making competitive salary offers

Before you make the hire, make sure you are aware of what competitors are offering, to avoid being let down by candidates accepting other jobs. Researching salaries in your specific industry will enable you to make competitive salary offers, or highlight package benefits to attract top candidates. Ecruit’s sister company, The De Grouchy Partnership, has conducted a salary survey for FMCG marketing and sales roles to help employers and candidates to benchmark their salary offers and compare with other industries.

Balancing day-to-day and recruiting activities can become a strain. But this can be avoided by developing a detailed plan to support your employees with the intention of hiring as soon as possible. Employing fixed fee recruiters who can draft adverts and sift through CVs will help you find the right person quickly. Salespeople are in plentiful supply but sales recruitment specialists will provide the top talent to fill your vacancies.

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