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.