No one likes the idea of having to let go of a salesperson, but there are times when a working relationship needs to end.
In some cases, the offender simply isn’t a good fit for the particular organization. In other cases, there may be obvious signs that the person just isn’t cut out for the sales industry in general.
If you’re facing a tough decision in your organization about severing ties with a salesperson, consider the following nine signs it may be time to let go.
1. They're Late or Poor Managers of Time
Time management is a crucial part of sales. Someone who arrives late with frequency is giving a clear sign that they aren't taking their position seriously. Successful salespeople value your and their prospects' time by being punctual, and getting to work or meetings on schedule.
Of course, time management goes beyond punctuality. It's about working efficiently and with purpose. Having the focus needed to balance an array of responsibilities without falling behind. And an ability to manage contacts at various stages of the sales cycle, without letting opportunities fall through the cracks.
Sales is typically a fast-paced, high-pressure position. If a salesperson is mismanaging their time to the point that they are constantly playing catch-up, it going be costly to keep them around.
2. They're Not Open to Coaching
Great salespeople know that there's always room for improvement. More importantly, great salespeople want to continually improve.
So there's really no excuse for resisting feedback and training. Even if they're performing well (for now) someone who is too proud or too good to learn is not worth keeping around. They're likely to disrupt your company dynamic and cause more trouble than they're worth.
3. Their Outreach Numbers Are Low
The phone can feel heavy to any salesperson. But at the end of the day, calls have to be made. And follow-ups have to be sent. You should set expectations early for how many calls, emails, and interactions your sales reps should be initiating every week.
Some deviation is to be expected. And quality always trumps quantity. But if a salesperson has consistently low activity, it's likely a sign of their commitment level or an overall reluctance to sell. If you can't get their numbers moving in the right direction, it's probably best to part ways.
4. They Aren't Persistent
The spoils go to sales reps who go the extra mile. Prospects are rarely reached on the first call (or the second or third) and sales reps rarely hear a "yes" after the first connection. As a rule, persistence is virtually required to close deals - it ranks among the most important of sales traits. If you've got a sales rep who runs in the other direction after they hear a "no," or doesn't utilize a sales cadence to ensure regular, repeated exposure, it's time for a talk.
5. They're Rude or Impatient with Leads
Not every lead pans out. But every lead is valuable. That's why it's so vital to remain courteous and professional at all times. Good sales reps can turn negatives into positives. More importantly, they can navigate difficult situations, while preserving the good reputation of the businesses they work for.
Unfortunately, some people aren't able to keep their cool and they let negativity and frustration get the best of them. Nobody is perfect, but if a salesperson repeatedly displays rude behavior or an impatient or dismissive attitude, it's a clear sign they don't belong.
6. They Close Deals, but Not Good Ones
If your sales team is able to negotiate on the company’s behalf, each team member must understand how to negotiate and what limitations they’re working within.
Someone who gives away too much margin costs the company money, and devalues the product. So don't just look at how many deals your team closes, but the quality of those deals. If someone continues to give away the store after some coaching, sales probably isn’t for them.
7. They Don’t Respect the Team Effort
There's nothing wrong with wanting to be successful as an individual in sales. But in most cases, team success requires unity and cooperation among its components. For this reason, your sales staff needs to function with solidarity.
If someone is a prima-donna, or puts personal success above (or worse, at the expense of) team success, it's likely to harm the company dynamic and work environment. As such, you may need to show them the door.
8. They Don't Take Responsibility
Someone who refuses to own their role in sales is usually doomed from the start.
Accepting responsibility means owning the situation regardless of circumstances or outside forces. Sure, you may get a batch of bad leads, face an unfortunate set of obstacles, or run into issues with the product that are out of your control. But this is sales, and adversity is a constant.
It’s vital to accept responsibility, and push forward no matter what. If someone continually places blame on external factors, it's a good time to re-evaluate their future with the company.
9. They Engage in Tactics that Reflect Poorly on the Company
The sad fact is that some salespeople will bend and break rules all day long in order to hit numbers.
Of course, this eventually gets found out. But by the time it does, a lot of damage may already be done.
If you discover that a salesperson is misrepresenting the company, making promises they can't keep, or engaging in spammy sales tactics of any kind, you've got to respond quickly and definitively.
The best defense here is offense. Make it clear from the getgo that when it comes to selling, integrity isn't just the best way - it's the only way.
When Should You Fire a Salesperson?
For most level-headed employers, termination for performance follows a good faith attempt to address and fix the issue. While it's never pleasant to let someone go, when these issues persist, it’s often best for everyone involved.
Here are 9 signs that it might be time to let a salesperson go:
- They have poor time management skills
- They’re not open to feedback and coaching
- They aren't doing enough outreach
- They're not persistent
- They lack patience and decorum
- They close disadvantageous deals
- They're not a team player
- They don't take responsibility for their performance
- They're not models of integrity
Chime in. What other signs signal that a salesperson is not working out?