Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


When HR and Sales Management Do Not See Eye to Eye - May 5, 2018

Hire Slow Fire Fast. This is an old HR phrase that I used in last week’s post. This message makes a lot of sense. The more time you take hiring someone the better the odds are that they will be a match for the role and your organization. But, even when you do hire slow, sometimes the employee isn’t a match and they need to leave.


When it comes to the sales rep who would know better than the sales manager when it’s time to let them go. It could be underperforming, misrepresenting the company, not being a cultural fit, or a combination of all of the above. You need to involve HR. You need to get your HR manager apprised of the situation and on your side to remove the bad rep. You want HR to have your back. What happens when you don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the firing process?


I’ve been faced with this challenge and it is not easy to deal with at times. I asked my HR manager, Tori, to chime in on this topic. What would stop her from having her managers back? I was surprised at how simple her answer was: paperwork. She will have her managers back all day long if there is a paperwork trail.


Sales managers and their reps have a relatively unique relationship. They tend to spend more time together than even members of the executive team. Whether they are doing ride along’s, in training sessions, having coffee, or simply reviewing a client account, the amount of time spent between manager and rep is significant. And, because of this, very often there are conversations being had where the manager is giving advice and guidance that should be documented and delivered to the rep (aka employee). This could not be truer than when criticism comes into play.


All too often the messages of criticism, the messages that need to be handled with an HR slant, they are done in less formal and more casual conversation settings. This is the paperwork Tori is referring to. It comes down to making sure the rep has a clear understanding of when the criticism being shared is to be taken on a much more serious level. This can be in the form of email or traditional documentation such as a performance improvement plan. Tori will have your back all day long when you can show how and when you shared your concerns and criticism in writing with your team members.


Employee reviews can be a big help in keeping your documentation in line. Sales reps can and should be a part of their review by asking them for their ideas and feedback. Documenting their own concerns and criticism. The sales manager can then provide thoughts, ideas, concerns and criticisms in writing, and then before you know it, you have an employee file. When the rep doesn’t work out, HR will have your back, and no matter how slow you hired you can then fire fast.

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