I believe that every manager hates to fire someone, after all, this is one of the most unpleasant assignments for a leader. Knowing that you are leaving someone out of a job and the possible consequences, financial and psychological, this can cause is a little traumatic at first times.
However, apart from moments of crisis, most dismissals are fair and the employee deserved that situation. Therefore, dismissal becomes a necessary evil, especially in sales, where culture and results are rooted in each other.
Culture and Competitiveness: what a sales manager should look for
In every sales team, the search for results culture is more important than many other factors. I’ve seen teams with an extremely difficult market ahead of them generating customers in swarms thanks to greed and hunger for competition, both internal and external.
I know teams that really listen little and good when they lose accounts to competitors, such is the degree of search for victory.
And a good sales manager must be the engine of this culture, knowing how to encourage it at the right times, as well as at the right level. After all, internal competition must be fair and guided by a minimum level of cooperation, as what matters is the company’s final result, not the individual one.
In your team’s mind, it’s a swimming competition: they can take individual medals and achieve podium prominence. However, in this competition, what matters is the relay, where everyone must work together and to become better than the competitors in the lanes next door.
It’s no use having the best seller in the market if the rest of the team is made up of catfish heads. If your competitors hire average sales teams, you will fall behind instead of taking over the entire market. Your inexperienced salespeople must learn from the team of Blue World City, get closer to your results… that’s the only way you will have a high-performance team.
Jack Welch’s Teachings
Jack Welch is one of history’s great icons in strategic management. One of his most famous ideas is the 20 – 70 – 10 rule.
In it, Welch argues that every team, at the end of certain periods, should have its performance analyzed and, based on it, employees will be segmented into three levels:
- The top 20% performers across the team should receive far above-average rewards;
- The middle 70% can be divided as follows: 35% are looking to reach the top 20% performance, while the other 35% are struggling to move away from the bottom 10%;
- Finally, you would have 10% of underperforming employees. These should be cut from teams, oxygenating their teams and bringing in more motivated or capable people.
This rule has been applied with some success in companies with a highly competitive culture. A good example is the team of Capital Smart City, known for the high performance of its team as its spirit is always dominant year after year.
Have you ever thought how difficult it is to get to that point?
The biggest challenge is not to reward the 20% with the best performance, but to separate those that do not deliver the necessary results from those that are capable of helping the company to evolve and increase its numbers.
Your job as a manager, in addition to fostering internal and external competition (with limits 🙂), is to diagnose the right time to fire a sales executive from your team.
And how to do this?
Sales Manager: Look for these 4 signs
In all the teams I’ve played so far, these are the main signs that turn on our “red alert”. Every time we enter a client and find an employee with one or more of the characteristics below, we need to fully understand what is going wrong so that the team is going off the rails.
Dismissing is not an easy task, after all there are several variables that lead to a drop in the income of a good salesperson. Therefore, I have separated four behaviors that indicate that the chance of recovery is low and that you can start another selection process:
1. Low Coachability
Coachability can be explained as “the ability to be coached”, that is, your ability to learn new things and put them into practice.
For a salesperson, it is a very important feature, after all, it is only through constant learning that he does not become outdated (and disposable).
Low coachability sellers find themselves in two scenarios:
- They are superstars, with very high performance, and that’s why they don’t listen to others;
- They are difficult professionals, simply, and do not accept the proposed training, closing themselves to new ideas.
In the first case, there is nothing to do. As long as he brings in more money than he spends, you are hostage to your results (reminds me of someone, doesn’t it, Uncle Steve?).
In the second situation, however, the main reason for the low coachability is the difficulty in dealing with the hierarchy of the commercial area. This profile is generally known as the “lone wolf” and doesn’t want anyone to bother him, but sometimes he doesn’t listen to his superiors because he feels they are unworthy of trying to teach him something.
In general, salespeople with good years in the market and some good experiences (in terms of commercial performance) in their curriculum end up questioning new superiors, especially if they are younger than them.
The logic would be to conquer it through their knowledge, but there is no opening for that. So, to keep things the way you need to, like a good sales manager, you need to “tame it or release it into the wild.”
So look again at the results it delivers. Is this headache worth it?
Any sales manager knows this: your team’s fixed salary is not designed to make anyone comfortable. If this is happening, there is something wrong with your job and salary plan.
When someone on the team has low results, doesn’t reach the necessary goals and, even so, doesn’t move to improve, it’s time to put an end to the situation.
One of the best phrases I’ve heard in this regard came through one of the best salespeople I know. He worked with a sales director at a multinational who liked to tell the team:
“I want to see everyone changing cars this year, buying a new apartment, more expensive suits and designer watches. Good sellers are indebted sellers, after all, this is the only way you can go after them to earn what they bought.”
This phrase reflects well what your team should feel: surviving without chasing a better standard of living is not enough for someone in a competitive culture.
It could be that that sales executive has had a good time in the market, with a stocking befitting his departed skills, and therefore has his eye on other things in life.
If that unmotivated professional with no results is not charged, others may look up to him and the bad example will start to undermine the team’s culture.
3. Apology Machine
I think the most abominable salesperson needs to have this characteristic: not accepting that he was never wrong.
All the bad results it delivers are justified by a general conspiracy of the universe that does not create the necessary conditions for each one of the hundreds of leads not to become a customer.
I’ve heard a little bit of everything, but the most common are:
- “I’m getting bad leads all the time, so I can’t convert anything”;
- “I need a new presentation, but the communication/marketing team never has time to do what I ask”;
- “I needed to give a 15% discount to close the sale, but the sales manager didn’t release above 10% again. That way you can’t!”;
- “Sell this product is impossible! Nothing works and the customer always gives up because of it. We need to invest more in IT and Product!”.
Despite his genius deductions, he never thought of dedicating himself to consulting , as he diagnoses all possible and imaginable problems, indicating how to solve them (again, he could give the excuse that he doesn’t have time to do any of this and that he gets paid to sell…).
In the end, this seller must understand that the door is the house’s use. If he’s not satisfied with all the scenery he has, he can look elsewhere too. However, why spend it on someone who will never generate results?
Take the first step, after all, he’ll give you an excuse not to.
I’ve already mentioned that every salesperson is selfish on some level. The difference is that he needs to understand how far his concern must go beyond his own needs and results.
Sociopaths, for example, are selfish by nature and their difficulty in putting themselves in someone else’s shoes makes them cold sellers, persuasive by nature, but not consultative. They close contracts that do nothing to help their customers simply for the pleasure of “winning”.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a team of sociopaths, even the most greedy and self-centered salespeople should be able to see themselves as part of something bigger: a team.
Establishing a culture where the collective matters more than the individual in sales is not easy. The sales manager’s challenge, when regulating competitiveness, is precisely to create a friendly routine, where everyone shares best practices and failures and, in a fair way, can help the entire company to move in an increasingly positive direction.
Ideas are worthless after all. If someone cares so much that they don’t share an idea or good practice, it’s because they believe they’re not the best for it.
In sports, this situation always ends up in something deplorable: doping.
Have a fair competition on your team and no one will feel unmotivated or outdone!
Are you the one who can be fired, manager/sales director?
Now, if your concern goes beyond and there is a possibility that your position is at stake, find out here the reasons that lead a sales manager to lose his job.