Is it time to fire someone on the sales team?
Perhaps we made a bad hire, or the salesperson didn’t assimilate into the culture or demonstrate the competencies needed to succeed.
There’s a war for talent in today’s marketplace, so second-guessing ourselves on whether to cut loose an underperforming rep is understandable. Have you experienced that after a rep leaves, we often recognize we should have acted sooner?
However, we don’t drop a headcount at the moment as it could affect the sales team’s goal achievement. The real issue is what could a better-performing salesperson do with the assigned territory, leads, or accounts. How many messes are below the surface with marketing leads, existing customers, or internal teams?
The behavior we accept influences the team and company culture. If we pay attention to the signs that it might be time to fire a sales rep, the organization, sales team, and the salesperson will be better off the sooner you confront these four signs:
1. There’s something behind the numbers
Sales performance is a lagging indicator, meaning essential sales activities aren’t happening or are being executed poorly. If the quality and quantity of prospecting activities, opportunity management practices, and internal engagement is lacking, sales performance issues shouldn’t be a surprise.
When someone isn’t “getting it,” there’s usually plenty of evidence that the sales leader often ignores. Pay attention to the attitude or behavioral and cultural issues – other internal stakeholders may be observing concerning behaviors, so make sure you solicit feedback from others to calibrate.
2. There’s A Lack of Ownership (or they’ve checked out)
If it takes too many conversations to change behaviors, there’s likely a lack of ownership. You might see it in the absence of adherence to pipeline management standards or how they don’t follow the sales process. Once you get to the third, fourth, or fifth excuse, the lack of ownership will be evident. The key is to recognize the lack of ownership early and establish countermeasures to get them back or see them out.
3. Some Metrics Rise, Others Fall
The number of calls or meetings is up, but the number and value of opportunities are down. The number of proposals is up, but win rates are down. Activity-based metrics can distort the activity quality if the activities aren’t directed to the right target prospects and customers. If the salesperson feels the heat, they may overcompensate by doing more and appearing busy rather than doing less but more effectively.
4. They Are Hiding Things
If you encounter a situation where they are hiding something, or you get a half-truth or half-baked answer, that’s the sign it’s time to let them go. If you hear one half-truth now, you will find many more once they leave. Search for customer complaints, team members’ eye rolls, an opportunity reversed by sales operations, or odd CRM activities and notes. A red flag follows the yellow flag, so save some time and make a move.
So What Is A Sales Manager To Do?
If any of the above signs appear, it may be time to fire a sales rep. If you are a sales rep, it may be time to rethink your commitment to success in your current role. There’s no time to wait. When situations linger, they fester, and the entire sales team suffers.
The signs above can also be a signal for the sales leader to ramp up coaching priorities. An intense coaching effort might help the salesperson turn the corner or assist in coaching them out of the organization (and help land the next job). Ending the rep’s employment after a coaching effort makes separation much easier for everyone.
Letting someone go is not easy, but necessary.
Think about professional sports. When players are cut or dropped from one club, it’s just business. Perhaps they succeed with other teams? The sooner we confront the signs that a rep should leave, the better it will be for the organization, the sales team, and the salesperson.