It might be time to fire your salesperson
No-one likes to talk about firing people. Modern business is all about giving staff opportunities, helping them excel in the right role, and incentivizing your employees to do their best. But, sometimes, despite your strongest efforts, they just aren’t stepping up to the plate.
When that happens you need to make a tough decision — Do you continue to provide opportunities in the hope they’ll change, or do they get the pink slip? One area where it’s vital to make that decision fast is in your sales department. It’s your sales representatives who create your revenue, so when they’re underperforming, you need to take decisive action.
Here’s how to tell if you should show them the door.
Look at the sales metrics of the salesperson. There’s nothing like hard data to help you make a decision. Look at the evidence on how your sales teams are doing. Explore the individual measurements and performance data for specific employees. Review this information in context — How do they compare to other individuals or teams? What are the industry averages and benchmarks? This data is the first step in identifying weak performers.
Read through one to ones and personnel reviews.Your business should be holding one to ones and formal reviews with your employees. Take a look at their feedback reports, how their peers and managers view them, and how they present themselves. Keep an eye out for warning signs and indications they’ve been offered previous opportunities to improve.
Talk to their sales manager – or have a chat with yourself if it’s you! The next step is to speak to their line manager or team leader. Find out what they think of the salesperson and whether they have the potential to improve. Learn about the subtext of conversations they’ve had in the past. Find out if their lack of performance is due to their attitude and approach, an absence of skill and training, or for some other reason.
Summarize the key factors behind poor performance. Following your review process, establish the main cause of their poor performance, it could be for one (or more) of several reasons:
• Attitude and approach – They just don’t have the right interpersonal skills, autonomy, or approach to be a good salesperson.
• Lack of experience — They don’t have enough history and related experience with sales to be able to close deals.
• Lack of skill — They may not have the correct level of training to make the most of any natural talent they might have.
• Process issues — They don’t have a proper understanding of the sales process in your business.
• Issues with other team members — There might be friction in your teams with other people or interactions that are impacting their ability to sell.
Speak with your HR department – or this may be you again! When you know the background for the poor performance, it’s time to speak to HR. Learn if there are potential steps you can take to improve performance, or if they’re simply a “lost cause.” In some cases you might just need to provide more training and support, in other cases, the best thing to do might be the dismissal process.
Make sure you follow the dismissal process. You likely have strong policies and procedures around dismissal. Make sure you follow them to the letter and get HR support in place so you meet all your commitments as an (ex) employer.
If you’re experiencing a decline in your sales figures, it might be down to one or two individuals. It’s important to take a rational, objective approach to learn what’s going on and why. If you do find out it’s due to individual performance, ensure you understand the background and context. Then, you can involve HR and make sure you treat both your employees and your business needs fairly.