Why You Should Terminate Early, and Often

Firing sales reps is no sales manager’s favorite activity, so too often underperformers hang on to sales jobs they just aren’t cut out for – costing the company money, and taking up space on the team that could be filled by someone who is a better fit for the role.

There are a lot of reasons managers cite for not terminating a rep as fast as they should:

“I think she just needs more time to close, she says she is so close to closing that deal.”

“It takes a lot of time to go through the hiring process all over again.”

“I can’t leave his territory without a rep.”

And more…

But that thinking is less likely to occur at high performing sales organizations. Managers of top performing sales organizations aren’t afraid to cut their risk by firing underperformers quickly. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 18% of high-performing sales organizations terminate salespeople for poor performance after one quarter. Compare that to only 2% of average performing sales teams and 5% of underperforming organizations.


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Sales organizations flourish under strong management with clear goals for their reps. By allowing an underperforming rep to stick around and try to “work harder” it negatively impacts the organization’s ability to reach sales goals, and weakens the position of management in the eyes of the reps.

But, the other factor is that High Performing sales organizations have developed performance metrics or KPIs that they live or die by. And they’re disciplined enough to make the tough decisions the data supports.

For example, understanding the Selling Intelligence™ score (SI), or selling DNA, of a rep is an essential data point. Selling Intelligence™ scores are calculated by evaluating those attributes that are specific to high performing reps. The insight this offers is completely objective, and gives sales leadership a source of data that make weeding out non-performers easier than using gut instinct, hope, and missed quota – which is an after-the-fact measurement.

By administering a sales assessment on a regular basis, sales management can spot red flags early on and identify reps who are not only poor performers, but lack the Selling Intelligence™ score to become a solid member of the sales team.

A sales assessment may not only reveal that they lack sales skills, but that they are in the wrong profession entirely. Not everyone is cut out to be a sales rep – and the faster you fire an underperformer, the better off your sales organization will be.