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Hold It, Buddy!

What to do when your best sales rep flies the coop and tries to take your clients along for the ride

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This story appears in the July 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Though only in my 30s, I've cultivated a cynical outlook of the business world worthy of a dyspeptic old man--think Andy Rooney with lots of hair and a great handbag collection. This basic distrust of human motives makes me well-suited to work on my own and, according to my high school aptitude tests, be a lawyer.

A little business cynicism may serve you well when you face the defection of a top producer. Because you hired a high achiever who knows his or her way around a client meeting, a pro who's fearless and impervious to rejection, you may have trained your future competition. When you hear the good news-that your employee is starting his or her own shop and the shingle's set to debut any day-what should you do? It's time to beat feet: Secure outstanding client lists, assign a new salesperson to the employee's accounts, and get on the horn to let clients know who'll be their new sales representative.

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