The End Of The Line How And When to Fire Salespeople

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Feb 13, 2023 by Sean Luce

A look at the LPG Blog archives brought this gem from 2000.  The names and faces could be anyone in todays Sales Management vertical but the advice and perspective they share is timeless. 

The hardest thing a manager has to do is fire somebody. Of course, if we had a surefire method of hiring, we could avoid this.It has been said that if we are able to keep 50 percent of the people we hire after the first year, we are geniuses. It's not easy to use the Russian Doll approach and hire people who are better than we are. And with low unemployment, it's a challenge to get top-quality, self-motivated people. So let's assume the genius stick has not hit all of us yet. I asked four top managers/sales managers in various size markets for their thoughts on how and when to fire salespeople. Here's what they said:

Chad Halderman: Station Manager/DOS, AMFM Denver
"If the AE has an ongoing track record of underperformance, and all reasonable avenues of coaching and managing this person have been exhausted, it's time to part company. If the AE has an ongoing attitude problem, no matter how talented the person is, a persistent negative attitude can be a cancer to any sales organization."

Carol Ann Wells: Sales Manager, WBRN Big Rapids, MI
The reasons that justify firing are dishonesty, unethical behavior with clients, and missing the sales goal for more than three months without accepting or following through on the coaching that I give! I think most people know fairly soon into a sales career if sales is for them or not."

Tony Yoken: VP/GM, Barnstable's Memphis Radio Group
"Our station's sales division is strategically based on a "High Performance" goal accomplishment system. Sellers who cannot embrace the system by "getting it" or "connecting the dots" stand out very quickly. At that point, our sales managers ask the question: "Is this a learning issue, or is this where you really need to be?" With new sellers, we know the answer in less than 60 days. With inherited sellers, you need at least 90 days of intense scrutiny."

Elaine Merritt: Sales Manager, WLBC-WXFN Radio, Muncie, IN
"I like to put the monkey back on them and ask questions such as: "When was the last time you met quota?"  "How many written presentations have you made this month?" "How many new prospects are you cultivating?" "If you were to rank your performance, what would you give yourself?" Firing is a frightening proposition because the job market is so tight, but you have to get rid of them. It is amazing how you will bring up the morale of the other people. There are times when we wonder if we are doing the right thing in firing someone. On the other hand, more often than not, we ask ourselves, "Why didn't we do it sooner?" " There you have it, from some of the best in our industry, all basically saying the same thing: Don't waste time if you have made the wrong hiring decision! Look at your top performers. Do the new hires have the same instincts, desire, and insatiable ability to comprehend training? Hire the head and the heart, and this can increase your chances of avoiding firing.

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