Oct 02 2018

Should You Do It? The Ethical Dilemma of Client Poaching

Posted by Charisma Felix , ,

Everyone wants to beat their competition. It’s a no-brainer. We are all in the business of making a sale and we all want our own businesses to grow; it’s something that doesn’t need explanation. But while most businessmen and brand managers are trying to win the battle with class by using fair strategies, some people just can’t help but go over to the dark side just to prove that they are great. Sadly, though, it’s inevitable. There will always be villains everywhere. If someone wants to win badly, they would be willing to do whatever it takes – even it means poaching someone else’s clients.

Okay, let’s make it clear: in order to succeed, you have to get all the potential clients and customers on your side, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But poaching them under the table like a black hat SEO may not be a good idea. Yes, you may have gained new business and you may have done something good for your company, but what does it say about your work ethics and reputation? Is the money all worth it?

 

The two types of poaching

There are two types of client poaching (yes, there is).

Let’s call the first one “Inviting a War”. It’s when you target existing clients of your business competitors. For example, you are a marketing company and your competitor is handling a big account that is their bread and butter. Well, if you want to be the top company in your industry, of course, you will aim to poach that client. It can make a stronger brand image and it can help your income.

The second one, let’s call it “Claiming what’s yours”. It’s the act of bringing in your clients to your new company after you left from the previous one. This is a normal scenario for big players in the industry. If you are one of those marketers who does whatever it takes to close an account, you will value each of your clients as much as you value your work. So, when the time comes that you will move to a new house, you would want to take those clients with you.

 

Although, there is a silver lining

It’s not all bad, actually. There’s a thin line in which you can consider poaching a client – their rate of satisfaction. The only reason for you to do that is if the client is no longer happy with their existing firm. If they are no longer in good standing, you can pitch for plans that can help their business become better.

Let’s take the same example that we used above. If you are in marketing and your client is not getting too many conversions than what they are expecting, you can come up with more effective solutions that can improve their sales.

 

Should You Do It?

It’s tempting, really. The satisfaction of seeing your competition go down the drain is priceless, what more if you are the one that puts them in that position, right? But the question is, should you do it? Should you ignite a war by going after their clients? Is it a smart move to claim a business that you think is supposedly yours?

Yes, you can invite a war. You can go to your competitor’s biggest client and lure them to your company. But would it be enough? Would that make you a better businessman than them just because you closed a deal with their stellar account?

And what if you steal your old clients from your previous company, does it make you better? Let’s disregard the fact that some companies may have a non-compete clause where old employees are not allowed to work with their existing clients; let’s say that you can, will you? Is that how you want to start in your new company, by hurting another firm?

The answer: Dude, you can do better.

Poaching clients is no different from taking someone else’s husband or wife. It’s just like wrecking a home just so you can be happy. And you wouldn’t want to be the person who destroys the life of innocent children (or employees) just to satisfy your own thirst and you can realise your dream of being awesome.

Understandably, it’s all business. Considering emotional attachments may have no place for business, but observing proper ethics does. And not because it’s all about the money, you’ll just forget what’s right and just for other people. We repeat: you can do better.

As the old saying goes: “there are a lot of fishes in the sea”. Truth to be told, if you are really as good as you think you are, you wouldn’t even consider going after what’s already taken because you already know that you are capable of getting more better clients, and it’s something that you can call your own.

 

It’s best to be good

Sometimes, just because we want to be the best, we forget about the concept of being good. We tend to forget that we have to be good – good enough to survive and good enough to create our own path. Being good is necessary to stay relevant in whatever industry. Being good is the best foundation that can bring you more clients and businesses in the future. Being good is all that it takes – a good businessman and a good person.

Now, ask yourself, would you want to be the best or you want to keep being good? The choice is all up to you. But at the end of the day, always remember that what you do echoes who you are and what your company stands for.

But, honestly, poaching is a cheap shot. Anyone can do better than that.


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