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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

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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