What to do about an under-performing sales rep.

There’s no time to lose. You have salespeople that are under-performing. Your early Q2 number is falling short. You need to do something to save your second half. Yes, you must act now—right now—to make your number for the year. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year. 


Careful, you may be about to make a colossal mistake. Too many VP’s of sales, faced with this situation, panic and jump the gun. They fire their worst performers on the spot—and shoot themselves in the foot. Don’t make things worse. Read on to understand your options and the important factors you must consider.


Why “Fire Now, Ask Questions Later” Is a High Risk Approach


You know you have dead weight on your hands.


Yes, you must act now—right now—to make your number for the year.

You’re ready to rip off the Band-Aid and move on. But if you act on this impulse, you may run into trouble. Here’s why we caution against suddenly terminating an under performing salesperson.


  • It’s expensive to hire a replacement. Recruiting and training a new hire will require a significant investment. Will your sales budget allow it?
  • New talent might not be readily available. How tight is the labor market? How difficult will it be to find suitable candidates?
  • Your onboarding program may be lacking. It may take six months, or longer, to ramp up a new hire. And that’s if done properly. In effect, 2015 will be lost. You’ll be no closer to making your year-end number.


If you still believe termination is the best course, keep reading. You need to know the whole story before you decide.


Step One: Get the Facts


How far off your number are you? If you’re not far off, replacing your rep may not be worth the pain and expense. If you’re woefully short of your midyear goal, termination is a reasonable choice.


What’s the sales rep’s tenure?


Is this a new rep? Maybe he needs more time. Is this a historically high performer? Maybe she’s hesitant or disillusioned and would benefit from more training and support. Since time is working against you, the new rep and the seasoned pro are both worth saving.


Step Two: Evaluate Your Options 


Option #1: Terminate.


Your midyear numbers are dismal. Your rep is experienced but has never performed well. It’s time to part ways.


Things to Consider: You should have a replacement ready to step in immediately. Will you hire from inside or outside your industry (sales experience vs. industry expertise)? If you hire from outside, you must manage and control the onboarding process. You need to have complete confidence in the program. 


A sudden staff change will slow your progress. You won’t have as many horses to finish the race. Big deals will make or break your year-end goal. Institute a Big Deal Review process to improve win rate or probability of closing sales.


Option #2: Quietly recruit a replacement.


Your poor performer is producing at least some business. Meanwhile, you can ramp up a new salesperson.


Things to Consider: If you go this route, you could face an over-staffing situation. Here’s what you need to ask yourself. Going into your second half, is bad breath really better than no breath?


Option #3: Improve or revive your current rep’s performance.


You’ve got a new rep or seasoned pro you don’t want to let go. You’d rather coach and mentor than hire and onboard someone new.


Things to Consider: You can use our 8 Steps to Sales Performance Improvement Guide to assist your coaching efforts.  We’ve compiled the performance best practices of top sales organizations.  Use these insights to move your rep toward a high performance mindset and activities.


Click here to download the 8 Steps to Sales Performance Improvement


Things to Consider:

Are you confident you can create, or recreate, a peak performer? Then you’ll need to put this individual on a performance plan. Our A-Player Sales Development Plan helps identify strengths and weaknesses. And it helps improve reps’ chances at hitting their numbers. For Sales VPs who think these suggestions have merit, Contact Us for an introductory conversation with me.


No matter which option you choose, it will impact your year-end result. If you’ve considered the circumstances and weighed the possibilities, you’re prepared to choose wisely. Time to move past your disappointing midyear and end the year strong.  As a guide to go deeper, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017 and turn to the People Planning phase on pages 285 to 293 of the PDF workbook.


How to make your number