A Publication of WTVP

When recruiting elite sales talent, nothing can be more debilitating than making a poor offer of employment. Once time, money and hearts are invested in a particular candidate, losing them to a counter offer can be devastating.

Great employees are hard to find, highly sought after and almost always gainfully employed. No employer wants to lose people like this without a fight, sowhen they learn that one of their best employees is intending to resign, thereis likely to be a strong effort to prevent them from leaving.

That is why it is critical for those in charge of hiring and recruiting to know how to mitigate the risks associated with counter offers. After decades of handling counteroffers, I’ve developed the following six tactics proven to overcome them:

1)     Be an employer of choice. The best defense against counter offers is to be known as a great place to build a career. Any employer can offer more compensation, but a company that is known as an employer of choice can offer not only a great financial opportunity, but also a great career and life opportunity. In many cases, these factors have no price tag and can be very difficult for other employers to match.

2)     Role-play a trial resignation. During advanced stages of the process, have a discussion about the likelihood that they will receive a counter offer and ask how they plan to respond. Conduct a role playing exercise where you present a counter offer and discuss their response. This could help identify any obstacles that may stand in the way of hiring this person or uncover that they are not truly emotionally ready to leave their current employer.

3)     Lowballing is a huge mistake. Often, sales recruiters will offer less than a candidate is currently making, believing that they will want to negotiate or are enthralled with the growth opportunities or ancillary benefits. When dealing with the best in the industry this is a huge mistake. Proven rainmakers will want to be courted and a low ball offer will insult them and drive them to the nearest competitor or right back to their current employer. If the candidate is the right person for the job, make a great first offer and get them on board.

4)     Find out why they want to leave. When someone interviews for a new job, they are likely not getting what they need in their current role. It is crucial to find out what this is and cater the job offer to meet their needs. While an employer may be able to match the money, presumably they are unable to meet all the candidates’ requirements for one political reason or another. This makes it imperative to fully understand the candidate’s real career objectives.

5)     Out-counter the counter. If a candidate expects a counter offer, be upfront and ask for the chance to speak following the offer. This will provide the chance to make an even sweeter offer. While an employer generally wants to avoid a bidding war for talent, there is no escaping the reality that by targeting the best talent in the industry, a bidding war has already begun.

6)     De-risk. Anyone that leaves an employment position to join another company is assuming risk. This is particularly true with high achieving people who have an unblemished track record of success. In many cases, even if a great career opportunity arises, they may be inclined to stay with their current employer. The best way to overcome this is to map out a detailed out pathway to even greater career success, but one that also includes contingencies for unexpected pitfalls.

Eliot Burdett is the cofounder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. For more information, visit