Underperforming Sales Reps – When To Cut the Cord

Sales professionals must be adept at recognizing problems and crafting solutions. We also must understand when a situation provides no easy solution. This is especially true when it comes to hiring a sales team, figuring out if a candidate can withstand the grit, grime, and slosh-house realities of our industry.

At Acquirent we have a rigorous hiring process, but even with a great screening process, you really don’t know if a hire was the right call until you put them in the game. Sometimes, that game action tells you that you made a mistake.

Building sales teams is like building a sports team, sifting candidates through scrimmage games (probation periods), assessing physical and mental stamina, and sharpening talent (via workshops, mentorship, training) in hopes of scoring the title come game time.

We all wish there was a magic formula for recruiting the perfect salesperson, but there isn’t. Some shine in interviews, but flounder come game time, struggling to elevate their talents to big league demands.

If someone has withstood the hiring process, but after training and tutorials struggles on the team; or if, after mentorship and one-on-ones, they still exhibit characteristics that hinder individual success and impede team morale, it may be time to blow the whistle and cut the cord.

Here are four telltale signs that someone isn’t a good fit for your sales team.


1. Lack of Drive

Does the salesperson have the grit of a champion? Are they always striving for the next big sale, or do their efforts sputter when faced with the smallest of obstacles?

If a salesperson is not driven, success is impossible. In sales, internal motivation helps us reach daily goals, enhances the value we bring to our clients, and keeps us reaching forward. If it is discovered that a person lacks the desire to win and the discipline needed to perform on a winning team, a career in sales is not ideal.

How can one be successful in sales if they lack the motivation to conquer the call logs and withstand the daily rejections that separate the rookies from the All-Stars?

2. Lack of Initiative

Initiative goes hand-in-hand with drive.

If someone can’t push through with a sense of urgency, they probably won’t take the initiative to find new opportunities for growth within the office, and within themselves. This is especially true come game time, when attempting to make the sale.

Most times, we need to take ownership of our work and simply get the job done. But ask yourself this question: Does the salesperson generally take direction and run with it, or are there constant excuses as to why the job can’t be done, and why they can’t win?

3. Lack of Interest in People

It’s a stereotype that sales floors are locker rooms for the extroverted jock. But every successful salesperson doesn’t have to be a gregarious, overly energized type-A personality.

On the contrary, some of the best in sales are those who recognize the correlation between active listening and understanding. Listening to clients and caring for their concerns is necessary to maintain a genuine interest in sales. Be wary of the salesperson that starts to exhibit signs of “all ball, no game,” who is disinterested in client discovery calls or client concerns, or more interested in their personal stats than team success.

In sales, the needs of the client come first. Our recruits must fall in love with the process of becoming better salesmen – the training and mock drills, the rejections and mentorship sessions— not just the trophies of individual merit.

4. Emotion

Our CEO at Acquirent says “Sales is difficult, so we have to keep an undying positive attitude.

How does this underlying positive attitude relate to a salesperson that is overly-sensitive to critique? Although sales necessitates a blend of mental fortitude and emotion, too much emotion blocks objectivity, the underlying truth one needs in order to sharpen their skills and raise their game. If a salesperson “taps out” when faced with failure, or if they play the defense game, never properly translating constructive critique into changed performance, what value do they really bring to a company’s team offense?

Sales is riddled with inherent obstacles, but the formula for success denotes a winning attitude – the grit, guts, and gumption needed to outlast daily scrimmages and, one day, someday, rise to the level of champion. We’ve all made it past the cut, past the opening gates of the interview, and we can all see the finish line ahead. Every lap and every day moves us forward, shaping a valuable player.

We all want to win, but we all don’t have the fortitude necessary to win. The whistle is blown every morning during the morning meeting, during the first sales call. Is the ability to win within you?