When Things Go Wrong
Things are going to go wrong and honesty is always the best policy. And
many a time, the salesperson thatís getting fired really wanted to quit
but just didn't have the courage to say so. And being cold about the
firing is no way to go either, unless the employee just begs for it. As
Steel writes, "Life is too short for us to lose our humanity." Brave
words to write for people involved in the often cutthroat world of
selling. Even sales managers must be able to see themselves in that
fired person's shoes, and know that, possibly, one day there go they.
You should think about a salesperson that has missed his monthly quota
(inevitable that this is going to happen to at least someone, sometime).
When a sales rep gets too far behind to meet quota one month she
typically needs a couple of months to get back on track, and the manager
must consider that, and first seek to have a meeting with the rep that
addresses any issues and then gets her fired up to do better and get her
aggressiveness back rather than put her down for failing.
If it comes to the point where the manager still finds himself at least
considering having to fire a rep, he should ask himself critical
questions about the possible decision: how long has the rep been with
the company?; does the rep have any other assets that bring value to the
company?; and what could potentially happen to the sales force as a
whole if this rep is gone?
The solution depending upon the answers to those questions.
If sales goals are correctly set: one-third of the sales reps are always
in peril; one-third of the sales force will supply 80% of the sales
goal; and, one-third of the sales force will exceed the manager's
expectations. Goals need to be adjusted from time to time, and if you
are in a volatile market they may need to be adjusted fairly frequently.
Correct goal setting by sales managers "automatically" weeds out the
people who should not be sales reps and thus constantly frees up space
to bring in better talent.
When dealing with employee discipline--another loathed part of the
manager's job. An employee must be told straightforwardly that there's a
problem and what exactly that problem is; a great deal of the time the
problem is really just ignorance on the employee's part and there is no
attitude problem. The manger needs to attentively listen to what the
employee says about the problem--there is typically more than one story
playing out in the situation and the right corrective action may depend
on knowing the other stories. And except in the most extreme cases, an
employee should be given the chance to correct their problem based upon
a mutually agreed upon solution. The manager must also document these
situations to avoid future problems including lawsuits.