One question I get asked a lot: Should I fire my salesperson or give them a second chance? Obviously, the answer is very situation-dependent, where you have to determine if the offense is unforgivable or simply a matter of more coaching and training. So, let me give you five situations where there is no doubt that you must let them go.
1. They Behave In An Unethical Manner. Clearly, lying, stealing from the company — including intentionally gaming or cheating a compensation plan — falsifying information, or attempting to cover up their bad behaviors are all reasons for termination. Same with anyone saying or doing things that are racist, sexist, or grossly inappropriate. You simply cannot afford to have someone like this on your team, period.
2. They Aren’t Hitting Quota, And They Aren’t Doing Sufficient Activities To Demonstrate They’re Trying To Hit Quota. By far, this is the biggest mistake sales managers and companies make. Often the person is making some sales, but nowhere near what they need to. Further, you might like the person. They might fit in well with the company’s culture. Clients may love them, which all makes this decision muddled for many. But the bottom line is that they must hit quota or they can’t stay on the team. Now, before you do anything, make sure you 1) have clearly defined quotas, 2) have worked out an activity plan with them, working backward from their quota, to ensure you’ve defined what it will take to succeed, and 3) coached them weekly, even daily, to monitor activity and ensure they’re keeping their activity commitments. If you’ve done all of that, yet they keep coming up with excuses as to why they can’t do more, they’re a dud. Let ‘em go.
3. They’ve Got A Very Negative Attitude Toward You And The Company. I learned this hard lesson a long time ago: Sour milk never turns fresh. Obviously, this goes beyond just salespeople. Negative detractors can destroy your company from within with their passive-aggressive actions, and you can bet they’re working to bring others to their side, creating an even bigger mess if you don’t nip it fast. But sometimes, the salesperson is actually great at their job. They’re hitting or exceeding quota and bringing in revenue. In that case, the decision gets a lot more difficult; but if you allow them to stay on, you’re asking for a giant blow-up later on when they either eventually leave and blow everything up right before they walk out, or they create a cancer in your culture that explodes like an atomic bomb when you least expect it.
4. They Don’t Play Well With Others. Some salespeople, particularly the good ones, can turn into prima donnas who think they walk on water. They know they’re stars and therefore act like spoiled brats. Don’t allow it. Yes, a good salesperson should be honored and respected by others; after all, their actions help pay the bills. But don’t allow someone to get so high and mighty that they destroy your team by being disrespectful and breaking rules they think they don’t have to follow.
5. They Aren’t Coachable And Aren’t Applying What They’re Learning. All new salespeople will have a learning curve, but they should be able to pick things up relatively fast. If you find yourself having to remind them repeatedly about how to do basic responsibilities — create reports, use your CRM properly, get contracts signed and processed correctly, or follow your sales scripts and sales process — let them go. Here’s my acid test: The minute I feel I have to beg or babysit an employee to do their job, they gotta go.