After Accepting the Sales Job Will the Salesperson Back Out?

Did a sales candidate ever accept your job offer only to back out prior to the agreed upon start date because the individual decided to stay with the current employer?

This happened to a client and it had a tremendous ripple effect.

  1. They had already let the former inside salesperson go – now instead of an ineffective salesperson, they have nobody in the role.
  2. They must restart the sales recruiting process.  Ideal candidates are more difficult to find compared with a year ago so this could take another 60-90 days.
  3. The president is the primary outside salesperson and now must cover the inside salesperson’s role.
  4. Covering the inside sales role and recruiting for a new inside salesperson will cause sales and management of the company to suffer.
  5. Others in the company who need his attention will not get as much of it as they need.
There are two scenarios when this problem can occur.
  1. Their prior company offers, and they accept more money.
  2. Their prior company apologizes and promises to pay more attention, give them a promotion, reward their loyalty, provide more recognition, etc.
If you don’t mind getting into a bidding war, a larger offer takes care of the first scenario.
But the second scenario is not money driven.  Is there anything you can do and is there a way to be prepared for it happening to you?
Objective Management Group’s Sales Candidate Assessment has two findings that can help you flag the potential for this frustrating scenario.  The person in the second scenario is not money motivated, also known as not extrinsically motivated.  Instead, this person is intrinsically motivated.  A person who will return to a company they were disgruntled with has Need for Approval.  When the Need for Approval is strong enough, that individual is vulnerable to staying with the current employer if that employer performs the big apology and does the “I promise to treat you better” act.  So if the candidate you make an offer to has a high intrinsic score along with a high severity level for Approval, then you best be prepared for the scenario mentioned above.  So what can you do about it?
After making your offer you can say something like, “When you give notice at your current company, what would you do if they apologize, promise to treat you better, recognize your contributions, provide better hours, and qualify you for a promotion down the road?”  The candidate doesn’t even need to answer.  You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice.
Then you can say, “For you to be looking for a new position, they must have failed to show you the love.  Why would you go back when the track record says nothing will change?”
The key, as always, is to deal with the potential issue up-front, before it happens, when there is little pressure and less chance of resistance.