What Non-Competes Are All About
Wondering about signing a non-compete with your new employer? Do you have limitations on where you can work next based on an agreement you’ve already signed? In today’s competitive business environment, it is common for sales professionals to enter non-compete agreements with new employers.
What is a Non-Compete
Non-compete agreements are used by employers to protect intellectual property, trade secrets, inventions, ideas, employees, and customers. Since most salespeople aren’t developing new software or sharing secret sales formulas, what matters most to salespeople about a non-compete revolves around Clients.
Clients and Non-Competes
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. If you are going to work for a competing firm, it’s essential you understand the two most common binding agreements. These two show up most often:
- Working for a competing firm with competing solutions, products, and offerings
- Old clients and prospective clients
If you’ve signed a non-compete, you may be restricted in who you can work for and what kind of solutions you can sell. Check your agreement for details on what’s considered a competing product and who’s considered a competing company. If you’re in a niche market, you are probably already aware of who you will be prohibited from working for as the list shouldn’t be exhaustive.
You will most likely be prohibited from reaching out to old clients and customers. So if you’re tempted to take information or call on former clients, remember that you’ll be able to do your sales job at the new company without taking information. Have confidence in your own abilities and have faith in your new employer’s solutions.
Leaving Behind Your Non-Compete Worries
Shortcuts, hacks, and “working smarter not harder” are all ideas salespeople should benefit from. But violating a non-compete agreement isn’t any of those things. If you can sell, you don’t need short term schemes. You just need to believe in yourself and your ability to find new business. You won’t need to download information from your old employer’s CRM system to take with you. You already have all you need to be a smashing success—drive, ambition, and your determination to succeed.
Switching employers can be both exciting and stressful. Undoubtedly, there are uncertainties you’ll have to face. The future is in front of you and unpredictable. But with confidence and a strong work ethic, you’ll be able to leave the cobwebs of old information behind you and focus on your new sales mission.
Now for Plain English*
In basic, non-lawyer language, when you sign a non-compete, you are essentially saying, “When I leave, I will leave my work behind, it’s yours. I won’t come back here for it and try and take clients from you. You’ve faithfully paid me for my work, and I’ve accepted the money, so the clients are yours. We’re good. I won’t harm you in any way. I wish you and the company well.” (* This is not legal advice. Every non-compete is different. If you need legal advice, please seek legal counsel.)
Sometimes salespeople are bothered about the limitations of non-competes. If this is the case with you, I’m asking that you remember what you had when you walked in the door to your employer. Did they hire you for your contacts? If they did, it may be fair that you walk out with them since they came in with you. I question the enforcement of non-competes that try to limit salespeople who were hired for existing contacts.
But if you didn’t walk in with contacts, it makes sense to leave without them. It’s a confidence builder to know you can start anew. Every time you do it, you’ll become a stronger salesperson. In fact, you’ll start to remember why you’re one of the best in the country because it won’t be long before you’ve rebuilt your pipeline and are winning new business again.