Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


When Starting Over Is Not An Option - April 28, 2018

Today I’m going to pick up where I left off last week sharing my story of John. Throughout the past several weeks I have been working with a client in evaluating John. As I stated in my previous post, he seems to be listening, but not truly hearing what we are saying. He is not grasping the concept, especially for someone with over 15 years of experience, that sales is a numbers game. You’re either performing to a set standard or you are not.


Well, I thought I heard them all, but John threw me for a loop. He asked his manager and I if he could start over. That’s right, he wants to start his role over again, as if the past 6+ months never existed. Unfortunately, this may have sealed his fate. No, of course you cannot start over.


Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a matter of giving him a second chance. We’re not talking about changing careers and starting over. We are talking about the fact that John has been paid a base salary for over 6 months, along with benefits and vacation time, and he has not produced sales to even a base level. This has become more of a matter that John is not grasping the concept of new business development (vs account management) and he certainly is not an ‘A’ level sales person.


John cannot start over, at least not with my client. John needs to understand that the messages given to him by his sales manager have not changed. The goals that are set forth for his role are the same as when he interviewed. The need for activity in terms of calls made every day, meetings set every week, and ultimately closed deals are the same today as they were yesterday, last week, and last month. Nothing has changed. The fact is that John cannot do the job.


So, I’ve asked myself, “is there anything my client could have done differently?” The short answer is not hire John. But, somehow John did a very convincing job of selling himself during the interview process. The real answer is termination sooner. It is not a pleasant decision. Yet, in business, we sometimes need to make tough calls. There’s an old saying: Hire Slow Fire Fast. In John’s case, he should have been terminated months ago, and not have had this situation drag on. It is unfair for my client and it is unfair to John.


When starting over is not an option it is wise to guide the underperforming sales person out the door. You are not being cruel, rather you are doing them a favor. If this is not the role for them, you should help them see the light and leave on their own, or you may have to fire them. Again, this is not pleasant, but sometimes a fact of life. When the position is not for them, when starting over is definitely not an option, be kind but swift and left John go.

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