The Treasure You Missed

The Treasure You Missed


A nationwide company once had a local team of four sales people.  They worked well together and enjoyed their jobs.  They received awards and were top ranked among the sales teams from across the country.  But there was a problem.

At first it was nothing big.  From their senior manager, there was a snide comment here or a put down in a meeting there.  Over the months and years, resentment grew.  But the team felt like family and they didn’t want to split up and lose all the sales momentum, the client base, the commissions, and the feeling of family.  Until one of the team was personally put down in front of the group by this senior manager and quit enraged.  Then the great thing these people had built began to crumble.

This is a true story.  All four members of the team left within 6 months, costing the company almost a million dollars a year in revenue.  Three members of the team went out to each start their own companies, competing with their former employer.  Two of these companies grew to over $2MM a year in revenue.  And those two companies started recruiting their old coworkers as well.

This company lost $1MM a year in direct revenue and had another $4MM of potential business go to competitors.

A company in Dallas let go two senior revenue generating staff members to cut costs.  The assumption was the company would no longer have to pay their high salaries and would get to keep the clientele and residual revenue they’d brought.  Things turned out differently.

These two people with highly specific skill sets went to a competing company, then brought 15 of their peers with them, all with hard-to-find technical expertise.  Currently, the new company has won 10 of 12 head-to-head bids, each with a $1-5MM lifetime value and without cutting price.  The new company sold the quality and experience of their newly acquired staff to seal the deal.

Top performers are always in demand.  Competitors fight for these go-getters.  They start new divisions, open new markets, develop new products.  And they know what they are worth.  For the vast majority of companies out there, top tier talent is very hard to find.  It can be single biggest factor in whether a company is profitable or not, whether that product rolls out on time, whether that client stays long term.  If you got great people, money alone won’t keep them.  Appreciation and respect are vital to the work place.

After all Doug Conant, former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company is quoted saying “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”


-Dixie Agostino, CEO of Switchgear Search & Recruiting

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