6 Questions To Ask Before Terminating A Sales Rep

Objectively evaluate the source of the problem while you consider terminating a salesperson that is not meeting their sales goals.

Got a salesperson that you might be terminating? So far you’ve tried everything to correct the situation – training, begging, threats, performance improvement plans, mentorship, etc. Still, they’re not meeting your expectations.

Before making the decision to terminate a rep, ask yourself these six (6) questions:

1. Have they produced results in the past? 
If your salesperson sold well in the past, then chances are they can replicate that success. They probably have an issue that is affecting them now and it should be identified and resolved so they can get back on track. Look for clues as to what they did previously when they were succeeding and identify any changes in activity, behaviors or attitude.

2. Are they experiencing any personal problems?
Many times a problem at home can derail a salesperson for a period time. You need to know if this is a temporary set-back or a potentially permanent one. Consider using an in-depth sales assessment to measure your rep’s mental and emotional focus, as well as their capacity to manage stress. This can open up dialog about external factors that are impeding performance.

3. Are there any recent changes inside the organization?
Mergers, acquisitions, new management, changes in pay plans, corporate restructuring, and changing territories can all have a major impact on the performance of your sales team members. If you know major change is on the way, help your sales team by preparing them for it in advance to mitigate fluctuations in sales performance. If it has already occurred, then use your available resources to help support them through the transition. Many top performers have been terminated because the organization maneuvered through a corporate restructuring.

4. Are they the right fit for this sales role? 
Not all sales jobs are the same. And just because a candidate demonstrated a “sales personality” and has legitimate experience on their résumé does not mean that they should be in this particular role. If they are failing to hunt and generate new leads, they might be better suited for inbound sales or account management. Ask yourself these questions to determine if they are a better fit for a different sales role:

  • Do they exhibit traits of a good closer, but fail to develop an adequate pipeline?
  • Do they tend to invest a lot of time servicing their existing customers?
  • Do they succeed at product knowledge and consultative selling, and prefer to work on bigger deals?

5. Are they coached/managed properly? 
Failure to hire, manage, coach and lead your reps properly are some of the primary reasons for under-performance which lead to terminating them. Sales leaders are the coaches of their team. Here are a few coaching questions to consider:

  • Are you consistently observing them selling on the phone or in the field?
  • Are you conducting “sales rep focused” sales meetings?
  • Are you engaged in sales skill development during your one-on-one sessions?
  • Are you more interested in quota than quality and quantity of activity?

Too many salespeople have been terminated due to a lack of effective coaching by their Sales Manager. The problem results in a potential superstar being let go and both of you suffering the loss.

6. Are they better suited for a different role in the organization? 
In many cases, underperforming reps can be shifted to another role in the organization. They might be a great candidate for a different department. Focus on identifying their strengths and sources of motivation such as their: desire for supporting others (customer service), drive for knowing and articulating product knowledge (training), research or aesthetics (marketing), or processes and systems (operations).

Ask and answer these six questions prior to terminating an underperforming salesperson. There are many other factors to consider before letting someone go, but be sure that you haven’t overlooked these specific issues that could affect performance and lead you to a decision that may adversely affect you both.