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***Non-Compete Agreement***
Old 07-16-2009, 05:51 PM   #1
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***Non-Compete Agreement***

Hello all:

Looking for some objective opinions out there:

Here's my situation:

I joined a new company as an outside sales rep. roughly 6 months ago. I was asked to sign a non-compete agreement day one. I never signed it and company has yet to ask me for it.

I'm considering leaving company and working for a competitor. I have built up MANY contacts/opportunities and would like to solicit them at new company in addition to other leads that I personally DID NOT generate that current reps have generated.

Obviously, old company may get upset and try to slap an injunction/suit on me.

There is more to my story regarding unhappiness, change of management, sales territory, broken promises, etc...

I hope I provided enough initial detail so folks can formulate opinions? I'll offer more details, if necessary.

Thanks so much in advance to all who read this and reply.

Space Mounatin
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:07 PM   #2
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I am surprised they have not fired you for not signing...


Since I am not a sales man.... I can not see stealing someone else's customer... and that is what you are saying you want to do...

The ones you got, fine, but the ones someone else got
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I am surprised they have not fired you for not signing...


Since I am not a sales man.... I can not see stealing someone else's customer... and that is what you are saying you want to do...

The ones you got, fine, but the ones someone else got

Mr. Texas:

Hold on a sec. Let me clarify. I would not be "stealing" anyone's customers.........merely their leads.

Hey, sales can be a tough racket. Dog eat world.

Not trying to be a wise guy..........just the plain reality.

Space Mountain
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:25 PM   #4
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If you leave for a competitor, when your current firm finds out you never signed a non-compete, someone else will probably be fired--the person who was supposed to get your signature on that document.

Does your prospective company know you were asked to sign this and haven't? What do they think?
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:29 PM   #5
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If you are unhappy, just go. Don't take any customer files; just what is in your head.

I wouldn't hire someone who was only on the job 6 months and was openly bringing customer information over from a competitor; obviously you wouldn't hesitate to do the same to me 6 months later. But, that's just me.

Sales is indeed a tough job; you may want to read "Selling with Integrity" by Sharon Drew Morgen.

Good luck on your career move.
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:01 PM   #6
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Even the best non-competes are usually not enforceable unless you are an executive. An employment agreement cannot be enforced if it denies you the opportunity to work in the area of your expertise. However, you should not give the impression that you are stealing trade secrets so DO NOT take with you any files, including your contact file in electronic form.

I wouldn't imediately contact those who I met at my prior employer. If you have a great network the word will get out and they will contact you.. just make sure you are readily accessable.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:07 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your replies to this point.

Here are some additional thoughts:

1. My potential new employer will never "technically" know where my leads are coming from. I will have to convince them of this before hiring. They may have suspicions, but in this economy, generating revenue speaks volumes.

2. If my prospective employer knew I signed a non-compete, (which I didn't) I believe they would be reluctant to hire me.

3. I WOULD, in fact, be willing to sign a non-compete with new employer.

4. If I decide to take my "rolodex" electronically with me, it will be way in advance BEFORE leaving. Sure, they may find out later but I have no problem admitting I downloaded info. as a "back-up" to our current database while employed. And who's to say I STILL have data? I could have lost my thumb drive, right?

5. If I decide to leave, I may get them to fire me first so it doesn't look so obvious. And if I quit? Well, it's nobody's business where I'm going. I could always wait 1-2 months and then join competitor. You know, to make it look good.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:29 AM   #8
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Non-competes, as Brat said are rarely enforceable unless you are compensated for the non-compete (as executives often are, when told to take a hike).

Non-disclosure, non-use of proprietary information, however, IS usually enforceable, even if you never signed anything, terms of which are usually disclosed in something like employment rules. Besides that, even if you have leads in your head, that you generated while working for Company A, then those leads belong to Company A, not to you, nor to Company B. Thus, you should not take ANY leads that were generated while you were paid by Company A, anywhere. If Company A has any evidence that they lost business to Company B due to leads taken by you to Company B (you know,, sales reports you may have made to your boss, presentations made by you to the lost customer while employed by Company A, etc), then an injunction could be filed against you, against Company B, you could lose your job, and ruin your reputation.

FWIW,

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Old 07-17-2009, 07:40 AM   #9
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There's more involved here than the "Will I get caught" aspects that you are addressing. You WILL have to look at yourself in the mirror each morning.

Or do salesmen do that?

Taking "other leads that I personally DID NOT generate that current reps have generated" is not consistent with my views of right vs wrong. Do the right thing. Money isn't everything.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:40 AM   #10
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Legally, it might matter which state you are in, because in some states I don't think a non-compete even holds up. But I'm also not sure this falls under a non-compete, or is outright theft of company information.

The more you explain it, the more slimy it sounds. Maybe I'm just naive and it's just the way things are.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:58 AM   #11
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Legally, it might matter which state you are in, because in some states I don't think a non-compete even holds up. But I'm also not sure this falls under a non-compete, or is outright theft of company information.

The more you explain it, the more slimy it sounds. Maybe I'm just naive and it's just the way things are.

Trust me, I don't feel real good about it, either. Just looking out for myself. But what about when companies hire someone, and that rep brings his business/contacts to THEIR company, only to get fired thereafter?

How come the company always seems to win? Because they are "The Company?"
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:19 AM   #12
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I would put myself in the place of the person who wants to hire you and ask if you would think this was an honest person with integrity?

I suspect that taking sales leads generated on the payroll of another company would not lead to much warm and fuzzy. Many of us have been lied to, underappreciated, overworked, etc at jobs and managed not to steal stuff on the way out.

Sometimes the question isn't "will they sue me for this", but rather "am I proud of this and want to tell my wife/kids/mom/pastor this story?"

Sales jobs are tough, but if you are good at it, you won't need to resort to tactics like this to make a living.
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
I'm considering leaving company and working for a competitor. I have built up MANY contacts/opportunities and would like to solicit them at new company in addition to other leads that I personally DID NOT generate that current reps have generated.
A customer relationship cannot be owned but can be enjoyed by the sales rep so there is nothing proprietary about it. On the other hand, leads - yours or from other reps are quite proprietary, can and often are considered assets, and their removal can be considered to be an unlawful act.

Quote:
Trust me, I don't feel real good about it, either. Just looking out for myself. But what about when companies hire someone, and that rep brings his business/contacts to THEIR company, only to get fired thereafter?

How come the company always seems to win? Because they are "The Company?"
If a new company can take the customer relationship away so easily, maybe it was never yours to begin with.

If you want to win, invest in yourself and develop a skill that has value in the marketplace. Stealing customer leads is one such skill, but it limits you to working with employers that have questionable ethics. If your relationship building skills are that good you should be able to find gainful employment with a company that values relationships..
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:57 PM   #14
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What you want to do might be legal, but you know it is wrong. Some of you post exhibit this. If I were your new employer, and I found this out, you would have real trust issues. In fact I might let you go before you could do the same thing to me. I agree with what others have said. Take what you know but leave the physical stuff behind, electronic included. Your new employer will find out. I would also be up front with the new employer. I would tell them that there was a non compete agreement, but that you never signed it, and, that you felt bound by it for leads you did not personally develop, that is why you did not take any data with you.

You did not mention is this was your first job in this field. Also is it customary for employees to jump employers.

One for the lawyers on the board, if you take the job with the understanding you will be required to sign a non compete agreement, are you bound by it, even if you don sign? You can be sure that your old employer will find a way to let your new employer know you are not real trustworthy.
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:25 PM   #15
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In this economy, you gotta do what you gotta do. I'd ask a lawyer (preferably not one on the internet) what is "legal" for you to do. Then ask yourself what you are comfortable doing. If your current employer isn't treating you right though, I wouldn't feel bad at all from taking clients away from them.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:34 PM   #16
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It's a small world. Word gets around. The most important things I have are my integrity and reputation. Also, read the poem "The man in the mirror" which is a life blueprint. Always remember what goes around comes around. .
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:43 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Space Mountain View Post
Thanks everyone for your replies to this point.

Here are some additional thoughts:

1. My potential new employer will never "technically" know where my leads are coming from. I will have to convince them of this before hiring. They may have suspicions, but in this economy, generating revenue speaks volumes.

2. If my prospective employer knew I signed a non-compete, (which I didn't) I believe they would be reluctant to hire me.

3. I WOULD, in fact, be willing to sign a non-compete with new employer.

4. If I decide to take my "rolodex" electronically with me, it will be way in advance BEFORE leaving. Sure, they may find out later but I have no problem admitting I downloaded info. as a "back-up" to our current database while employed. And who's to say I STILL have data? I could have lost my thumb drive, right?

5. If I decide to leave, I may get them to fire me first so it doesn't look so obvious. And if I quit? Well, it's nobody's business where I'm going. I could always wait 1-2 months and then join competitor. You know, to make it look good.
Sounds like you could fit right in at the new company.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:09 PM   #18
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Tell us what you are selling.... maybe that will make a difference...

But if I were a salesman... and I sold 'big' items.... which take awhile to get a sale... and you went to a competitor and showed up at his door..... I would consider you stealing my lead....


What would you think if one of your coworkers took one of your leads, closed the deal and got the commission I would think you would be in the managers office yelling at him about that SOB who STOLE your lead.... it goes both ways....
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:55 PM   #19
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DOn't solicit the leads you did not generate. The leads you generated are fair game. I disagree with a lot of folks on this thread because amny are not or have never been in sales. If a salesperson is NOT being paid a salary (likely in this case), how would you suggest the person eat until he builds up clientele?

A lot of companies hire folks "at-will", meaning you can be let go whenever they feel like it, so how is this any different? Maybe if the OP tells us the product being sold it would make more sense.........
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:11 PM   #20
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DOn't solicit the leads you did not generate. The leads you generated are fair game. I disagree with a lot of folks on this thread because amny are not or have never been in sales. If a salesperson is NOT being paid a salary (likely in this case), how would you suggest the person eat until he builds up clientele?

A lot of companies hire folks "at-will", meaning you can be let go whenever they feel like it, so how is this any different? Maybe if the OP tells us the product being sold it would make more sense.........
I disagree a bit... most seem to be like me (and you).... that his own leads are fair game... but I think he objects to the word (at least my word) 'stealing' when it comes to the other person's lead...


Think of it like YOU... or even someone completely different... a hairdresser.... these people are there for the 'relationship' with the person... it really does not matter to much where you practice your trade... I am hiring 'you'.... (unless you go somewhere where it is the company practice to rip off customers... then I am gone)...

I do not know if you work for a firm... but what would you think if the guy in the office next door went to another firm and took (or tried to take) everyone of your clients...
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