You want to minimize the negative effects, so here’s how to best fire a sales person.
Knowing when it’s time to fire a sales person and understanding how to do so correctly is a challenging situation for any sales manager. Firing any employee is difficult, but terminating a sales person takes more tact than usual. Sales people are in direct contact with your clients, and a disgruntled fired employee can damage your reputation or steal your clients away from you. If you don’t fire a sales person properly, the result could be disastrous for your business. You want to minimize the negative effects, so here’s how to best fire a sales person.
A sales person may need to be terminated for several reasons. His performance might be consistently poor—which can cost you money. If an employee is making more money than he’s bringing in to the company, it’s probably time to let him go. You should also fire a sales person who is performing unethical business practices, like taking bribes. Additionally, you might have to terminate a star performer if he is asking for too much because of his sales numbers. Or, a sales person who can’t play nice with the rest of the team may need to be terminated if you see that his attitude is affecting the rest of your team’s performance.
Sometimes, the employee might just need a good talking to or additional training. Perhaps you are the one who is falling short in the business relationship. Have you provided the sales person with the proper tools and support to succeed? Have you discussed the performance or attitude problems directly? Giving up on an employee too quickly can be the wrong decision. He may just need some time to be acclimated to the new environment and build stronger relationships with clients before you see his sales numbers increase.
If you want to fire a sales person, it’s important to take the steps above to show that you’ve really tried to keep him on board. You should be documenting all the problems you’ve seen and all the corrective action you’ve taken. Any disciplinary action should be written. Only after you have exhausted all your options and have fully documented the evaluation process should you continue with termination if you still deem it necessary.
Once you fire a sales person, you don’t want him walking out with valuable information on his clients. Look at your customer relationship management system and make sure it’s up to date—that all the employee’s sales data has been entered for all clients. You don’t want to lose valuable data once you fire a sales person.
When it comes time to fire a sales person, have all your documentation and files ready at your disposal and try to have a human resources representative or senior executive in the meeting. No matter what your feelings are, be professional during the termination. Provide detailed reasons for the firing, and although you could give the sales person an opportunity for feedback, keep your decision final. Ensure that you pay any outstanding commissions, income, or bonuses promptly. If the employee has signed a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement, this may be a good time to reiterate the terms.
Lastly, when you fire a sales person, you must notify all of his clients as soon as possible, preferably by phone. You don’t want them to feel neglected if their emails or voicemails aren’t being returned. They should be apprised of the situation, either by the sales manager or by the account manager who will take over the accounts temporarily or permanently. They shouldn’t be told details about the firing, but instead, they should just be reassured that their needs will still be taken care of, and they should be provided contact information for someone else on your team.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.