How to Fire Your Non-Producing Salesperson

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Many sales managers often ask themselves what they should do with their non-producing sales representatives.  Is it time to sever the employer – employee relationship and let them go? If it is time, how do you fire that salesperson?

Is It Time to Fire Your Non-Producing Salesperson?

Before you fire a salesperson, you first need to decide if that is the right course of action to make. As a sales manager, you can make that decision by asking yourself three basic questions:

Question 1 – Do They Know What to Do?

Does your non-performing sales rep knows what needs to be done to be successful?  Do they really know how many calls it takes to make quota?  If not, have him download our Goal Setting and Action Planning Tool and our Monthly Prospecting Activity Calculator from the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre.

Question 2 – Do They Know How to Do It?

How to Fire a Salesperson by B2B Sales Connections

If the answer is yes, they know what to do, then the second question you need to ask is if they know how. Are you sure? Because just making more sales calls doesn’t guarantee sales success.  

For example, early in my sales management career, I inherited a sales representative who was a cold calling buzz saw. Was he busy? You bet! Effective? Not even close! In fact, before I became his sales manager, he was on the verge of being fired because of his lack of sales production.

This sales rep knew he had to make prospecting calls to be successful. The problem was that he really didn't know how! So I started to coach him. First, we worked on the proper approach to use. Then we concentrated on how to qualify the prospects he was calling on. Lastly it was when he should follow up. Over a short period of time, he turned his performance around. In fact, he became one of my most consistently performing reps.

The lesson is that, before you fire a salesperson, make sure they know how to do their jobs properly first. If they don’t know the proper way to make a sales call, show them.  That’s your job as sales manager!

Question 3 – Do They Want to Do It?

However, if they do know how to sell, and you know that because you have witnessed their skills first hand, then ask yourself one last question.  Do they want to?  Simply put, are they willing to do what it takes to be a successful salesperson at your company?  If you get to this last question and the answer is no, there is not much more you can do.

Also early in my sales management career, I inherited a sales rep who just didn’t want to put the work into the job. He was a great salesperson. He knew he had to make more calls and he knew how to do them. I witnessed him do it several times. The fact was he just didn’t want to do them.

It was then I knew I had to learn how to fire a salesperson.

How to Fire a Salesperson

No one likes to fire anyone.  In fact, once you have done it once, it will teach you to hire better in the first place so you don’t have to do it often.  The fact remains however, it is sometimes in everyone’s best interests to go your separate ways.  The sales representative is not happy as they are not reaching their personal goals, and neither are you.

Once you have made the decision to fire the sales rep, it is best to act quickly. Having said that, before you march the sales representative into your office and hand him his walking papers, wait!  There is a defined process you need to follow to do this.  Otherwise you could cost you and your company thousands of dollars in a lawsuit! 

The Firing Process

If the salesperson is within their probationary period, and you outlined what that is in your offer of employement letter, firing the non-producing sales rep may be quite straight forward. You may simply be able to inform the employee in writing that their employment will not be continued after the probationary period.

If you wish to terminate an employee who is past their initial probationary period, however, the process usually takes place over a longer time frame. Normally it is at least a 60 day process.

Document What You Are Going To Do To Help The Sales Rep Improve

To start, you need to conduct a series of Performance Reviews accompanied with the appropriate warning letters. Also, you need to outline the minimum requirements for the sales rep to continue working for the company, and the deadlines for when they must be met. You also need to document the entire process, including any changes in the sales performance that occurred during that time.

Then, and only then should you give the salesperson a formal written termination letter.

I go into great detail on how to fire a sales rep in my ebook, Action Plan For Sales Management Success. The ebook also includes all the management tools and warning and termination letters that you will need to ensure you handle the whole process properly. If you would just like the warning and termination letter templates themselves, they are available in our Recruiting, Hiring & Human Resources Tool Kit.

More importantly, the book will provide you with the right recruiting tools and pre-screening procedures to hire the right sales candidate replacement. To help you get started on finding your next sales superstar, download a free copy of our white paper How To Recruit The Best Sales Professionals as well as 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers, visit our Sales Download Centre.

What You Must Do After You Fire The Salesperson

There are other reasons why you should consider firing a salesperson besides sales performance. Regardless of what lead you to this point, remember that it is often in everyone’s best interest to part ways. The sales rep is not happy they are not reaching their goals and neither are you.

If you do decide it is time that you and your sales rep part ways, keep in mind there are specific tasks you as the manager should do immediately when the employee leaves your company. And when I say immediately, I mean the same day.

How to Recruit the Best Sales Professionals (Includes 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers)

    Remember, it will cost you more in the long run to have the wrong sales representation in a sales territory than it will to not have any representation there at all. Don’t make the mistake of believing that hanging onto a non-performing sales person is a better choice than taking the time and effort to hire a new, more productive one. If you have done everything you can, it will not get better!

    Aim Higher!

    Susan A. EnnsB2B Sales Coach and Author
    Schedule a free sales coaching strategy session with Susan here.

    “… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”

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