Hold them or Fold them:
5 Essential Reasons to Fire a Sales Representative

Reading time:  6 min  |  Time to finish this chapter: 6 min

Most sales leaders hate to be the bad guys firing their sales representatives. Obviously, it’s a very unpleasant thing to do - it gets under your skin, just at it gets under your team’s skin while also destroying the work atmosphere.

Rarely, you’ll hear sales leaders sharing tips on if and how to fire their team. Yet, in the case of an underperforming or toxic sales representative, saying goodbye can save you a lot of money.

Therefore, this topic should be a part of every sales leader’s playbook.

Don't take it personally

Sales Leaders tend to blame themselves for underperforming employees

Seeing your sales team underperforming could make you doubt yourself. After all, you hired these people because you saw certain qualities in them. It’s your job to find out what is happening. Try to be objective.

Did you fail them, or did they fail in sales? If you’re a younger company, you’ll also probably wonder whether it could be the product’s fault.

Suppose a sales representative regularly doesn’t deliver satisfying results (while knowing it’s not the product). In that case, there are two scenarios you’ll find out:

  • it’s either the sales representative trying but struggling, or

  • he/she is not even trying anymore - sometimes, you’ll just have to deal with the pain in the ass type of a salesperson.

Time to say goodbye

3 possible scenarios you’ll encounter

If the sales representatives are committed, working hard, and fit your team, you can afford to give them a chance again. This one is worth digging into. Look in their numbers, conversions, or anything that’ll help you identify the problem.

Then, deliver appropriate training. Don’t expect numbers to go up immediately. It’ll be a long run.

Over the nearest future, you’ll need to get back to the topic/s many times and address them on your 1:1 meetings, too.

They’re not even trying and are unwilling to embrace help in the forms of coaching, training, etc.

You’ll know from their reactions when you sit them down to discuss what’s happening. If you can’t tell immediately, you’ll be able to tell later if you decide to give it a try anyway and proceed with training.

They won’t listen to your advice, neither will they apply any of your well-meant training. In this case, save yourself the time and money and part with this particular person asap.

Another unwelcome scenario is having a performing sales representative, however, them being very toxic for the rest of the team.

Even though they’re bringing a lot of revenue in-house, they can cause a lot of harm to your team., and in a longer perspective, to you, too. If you see a lot of conflicts, let them go.

An option would also be to have them always work independently or, better yet, entirely externally.

Figuring out which one you’re dealing with can be a lot to handle. You should never jump to any hasty decisions.

Firing someone should be a long process full of discussions, warnings, action steps (provided that there was no major breach of contract or code of conduct - in that case, fire immediately).

newsletter icon


Get weekly dose of your sales wisdom. Subscribe and we will send you one article each Friday. Just give us your email.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Learn RAYNET CRM'S unique pipelines and start to orchestrate your new biz like no one before


Watch out for these

5 signs to tell whether you should fire someone

You’ve done what you possibly could - trained, coached, gave it months, and still no results - the sales representative is simply not capable of doing sales.

Delivering results and hitting goals is pretty much their job description, so if this part is constantly missing, it’s time to let them go.

One wouldn’t think this could be a problem in sales. However, sales representatives aiming to hit their goals only are usually motivated to do the bare minimum.

Not only they’re not motivated to go beyond, but this can also have a negative impact on the quality of their work, followed by unsatisfied customers.

We believe this behavior can be fixed by coaching, so, again, be patient and try to change their mindset before rushing to say goodbye.

Btw, if you have a capped bonus structure, uncapping it will also help.

Sales is hard, so seeing an occasional downtime in your sales team shouldn’t surprise you. If any of your sales team members experience demotivation and loss of drive, watch out for them.

They should be able to shake it off soon. If they don’t, it’s going to spoil the atmosphere in your team. If the desire to go on is gone, they need to go. Probably to find a different type of job.

There’s already a lot of drama happening with the customers, so why add to it internally. If a person constantly brings the “sales suck and customers are stupid” mindset in the team, you bet it will spread quickly.

Sales representatives, in most cases, are very empathetic, so this toxic demotivation can drop your entire sales teams’ performance.

Toxic people can also create conflicts in the team, which ruins the cooperation. Better get rid of them asap.

Sometimes, sales make you creative (on calls, on meetings with clients). But choosing this to be the way to follow every day is a bad sign.

If all sales representatives should improvise, it can have a detrimental effect on your company as it might affect your reporting, forecast, or even customer relationship and your reputation.

You can’t measure, therefore, can’t improve what’s improvised.

Use your empathy

prepare in advance

If you believe that there’s nothing more to be done to help a sales representative and need to fire them, make sure you’re following the proper structure.

Follow the best practices:

  • Always schedule a face-to-face meeting (except for entirely remote people) - sending an email is very impersonal and cowardly.

  • Prepare the agenda and stick to it - it’s very easy to stray away from the conversation, as it will be emotional.

  • Be empathetic and explain what’s happening and why
    - ideally, salespeople should not be surprised or in shock because you have had several discussions and action steps to fix the situation in the first place. Still, clearly explain why you decided so, and provide supporting evidence.

  • Be supportive - hold the firing meeting at the end of the day, show you care, and offer references.

  • Help them - they might be suitable for a different type of sales role. Should you know someone who’s hiring, offer to put good words for them.

  • Talk to the team - gather the sales team (in our case, we do this on the morning team standup), explain the situation, and answer all the questions. This way, you’ll prevent gossiping and uncertainty in the team.

  • Follow up with their clients - assure them you’re doing the job you promised you would with keeping the quality up, and if you have a replacement, introduce them to the clients, too.

  • Stay in touch - parting professionally doesn’t mean you’re also ending the entire relationship. Don’t burn any bridges. Go for a coffee or a drink occasionally. The world is not that big, and you never know when you’ll meet again.

  • Lastly, firing a salesperson shouldn’t come out of the blue - That particular sales rep has to expect it. Before firing, you have to communicate what causes dissatisfaction, how they should fix it, and when. Your communication has to be very transparent.


How we think about this in Raynet? Read detailed look of our CEO Martin Bazala from our new office. Yes, we rebuild casino!

Martin Bazala / CEO
Activity report in RAYNET

When you use a calendar in RAYNET CRM it is automatically monitoring sales rep activities. So the activity report is just click away…


Wrap up

If you’re a leader, inevitably, you’ll find yourself in the position of needing to fire someone.  Don’t think of yourself as the bad guy. If the person is not a fit for the job, you’ll actually help them. Their next move will probably be into something more suitable for them.

However, the goodbye meeting won’t likely be held in the spirit of “I am helping you by firing you,” so expect an emotional talk. The five reasons we gave are just suggestions. Use your common sense and gut feeling, too.

Stick to our best practices in firing sales representatives, and mainly, don’t stew about it - just do it. You’ll create a space for a better-suited employee.


Sales leadership: 8 tips for effective people management

In the first chapter, you will find out what a business manager needs to know about working with people. You will also learn 8 tips that will make you a better leader.


"SALESDOCk is one of Startup Wise Guys' trusted partners in working with early-stage technology businesses. Their involvement has succeeded in helping teams to excel.