When To Fire Your Top Salesperson

End of the Road Yellow Warning Sign - Last Final Failure

The primary goal of most organizations is to drive revenue and profit. So any salesperson that knows how to do that, and do it well, is an important part of the team.

True, top salespeople may give you problems sometimes, but they're also doing exactly what you want. It’s worth putting up with a few personality "quirks" to bring in more revenue, right?

Well, not always. In fact, sometimes those little personality "quirks” can end up doing more harm than good in spite of their solid sales results.

Here are four situations where you need to consider whether it makes sense to let your top salesperson go.

Displaying A Toxic Attitude

Look at the top salesperson in your company. Do they know they’re on top? How do they act because of it?

Knowing you’re the best isn’t in and of itself a bad thing. Given the competitive nature of many salespeople, they tend to want to stay on top which drives the desired end result. The problems come when your top rep starts to ACT like they’re the best, and expects special treatment because they’re just so great. Creating exceptions around someone who behaves like a prima donna can be distracting and take staff off purpose.

Acting cocky and superior is a good way to bring down morale for the rest of the sales team. It can also lead to their becoming complacent and putting less effort into their work, thinking there are really no consequences for refusing to follow policies and procedures. Your top salesperson should have to work for and earn everything they get, just like the rest of your team. Their work should inspire the others to do better, rather than making feel inferior. If it doesn’t, then you may need to let them go.

Compromising Profit Margin

How is your top salesperson making all of their sales? Are they just really convincing? Or are they knocking down the price or offering special concessions in order to win deals? If their “deals” are so good that they continually cut into the profit margin, then those sales aren’t actually making any money. If their deals require increased labor to service, it's as bad as cutting price in the first place.  The important figure isn’t how many sales someone makes: it’s how much gross profit they can ultimately generate. And if they’re not able to close profitable opportunities regularly, then it’s time to say goodbye.

Unsupportive of New Reps

As we’ve seen already, sometimes it’s not worth dealing with a salesperson’s ego just because of the revenue they bring in. A good salesperson should be supportive of new reps, encouraging them, coaching them, helping them get acclimated in the company, and offering to show them how to boost their own numbers.

If a salesperson gives new people a hard time, refuses to help them out, or just doesn’t respect them, then they’re hindering those new reps’ integration into the company and making it harder for those salespeople to develop their talents and improve their own sales—ultimately costing your company money. They may be your top salesperson, but they’re still part of the team. They should act like it.

Lack of Support for the Company Strategy

Similarly, if a salesperson doesn’t support the company and the strategy, then they’re not acting like part of the team. If they have some issue with company policies or the overall corporate direction, they should either keep it to themselves, or privately and respectfully bring it up with their superiors.

If they’re vocal about their objections to your company, then it creates a rift, bringing down morale and making it difficult for others to do their work. Or if they think they’re so good that corporate policy doesn’t apply to them, and they just do whatever they want, even after being reprimanded or disciplined, then it shows a distinct lack of respect for the company. This disrespect is damaging to the rest of the company and cannot be tolerated. They should be let go.

It’s never easy to fire someone, especially when they seem to be doing so much good for the company. But the most important thing is for everyone to respect and support the organization, and to respect and support their team. Anyone who can’t do that isn’t really helping the company, no matter how many sales they make.


Will Brooks

As the CEO of The Brooks Group, Will draws on his leadership, marketing, sales, sales management, and operational experience to help develop and execute the company’s overall growth strategy. Having been in the human capital development industry his entire career, helping organizations reach their full potential through transformational change is a part of Will’s DNA. By putting his name on every single engagement, Will assumes a personal commitment to the success of every client.

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