There’s no time to lose.


One of your key salespeople is underperforming. Your midyear numbers have fallen 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.


But are you about to make a colossal mistake?


Too many sales VPs, 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 be like those guys. Read on to understand your options and the important factors you must consider.


Why “Fire Now, Ask Questions Later” Is a Risky Move

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 underperforming 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 overstaffing 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.


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 dowload the guide


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 Planhelps identify strengths and weaknesses. And it helps improve reps’ chances at hitting their numbers.


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.


Dan Perry

Intensely focused on helping sales and marketing leaders in B2B companies make their numbers at SBI.
Learn more about Dan Perry >

Dan approaches the idea of making your number from a unique perspective. Like many SBI leaders, he has walked a mile in your shoes. He comes from the industry side and has had to make his number to be successful. Perhaps this is why it’s wise to rely on SBI’s evidence-based methodologies. Though SBI is certainly an execution-based firm, Dan only implements strategies and solutions for his clients after they have been verified with before-and-after data. This leads to adoption of sales programs in the field, rather than shelf-ware.

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