Terminating Salespeople for Non Performance

I received an article from Frank Aubuchon, president of Aubuchon & Associates, about terminating non-performing or under-performing employees. Among the topics he addressed was the scenario where a company didn’t terminate Mary, a poor performer for two years, much earlier. Here’s what he said could happen:

‘This disgruntled employee files a retaliation or discrimination law suit claiming she was really terminated for a reason that had nothing to do with performance. Maybe she cites the fact that she is a ‘female in a male dominated group,’ ‘over forty,’ ‘a minority,’ ‘has a disability,’ ‘refused the boss’s advances,’ etc. Just on the surface of the claim, a third party (read judge, hearing officer, arbitrator, etc) may find it difficult to believe that Mary was terminated for performance when ABC kept her on for a lengthy time and may have even given her raises (no matter how small). While it is laudable to give new employees opportunities to succeed, suffering for months and years will not seem like suffering at all to a judge. ABC, rather than proving its point by showing they took quick action, is now defending itself against a smoke screen of charges, one of which might stick.’

More than any other employees in the company, you can easily prove it when salespeople are underachievers. You have sales figures, calling statistics, conversion rates, critical ratios, call reports, commission reports, performance comparisons, sales as a percentage of quota, training records, customer feedback surveys, results from assessments and closing percentages. Some or all of that information would prove non performance if necessary. The key is to act on your data before the data becomes meaningless. Remember 911? In the information age, not acting on your intelligence is an act of incompetence.