One of the most difficult tasks of any sales manager, or anyone in a managerial position, is having to terminate members of the staff. Firing people is not only difficult, it can be time consuming, have legal implications, and can leave remaining staff upset and out of sync for some time. Situations where you need to fire one staff person are fairly common. You can find that there may also come a time when you find yourself in the position of having to fire your entire sales force.
1. Technology has made your sales force obsolete.
Not too long ago it was common for companies to use door to door sales people to peddle their goods and services. This type of sales is virtually non-existent these days. Gone are the men who sold bibles, vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias directly to the buyer in their own home. In today's market place the need for sales people can continue to dwindle as more buyers access the internet for information and buying. Buyers can search for the goods and services that they need and never have to leave the office or have any sales person come to their office. As buyers become more computer savvy, they can research and compare similar products, find out prices and shipping information, and, perhaps most importantly, they can find reviews of the product or services they need and the company they are buying from. If you are in an industry where it is easier for a buyer to purchase products on line, you may find that you will need to fire the sales force and look to replace sales people with staff that can build and maintain web sites.
2. Your sales force is not performing to expectations.
Sometimes you simply have the wrong person or the wrong group of people. Every company has a culture. Within the company there are also sub cultures that can be broken down by departments. If you have a group of sales people who are more entrenched in their own departmental culture than in the culture of the company, and that culture is not helping the company to succeed, then you may find yourself in the position of having to let everyone go and start over. This happens frequently when members of the management team change. Some people who report to the new management or who are effected by the change may not be able to adapt to the new requirements or the new style of management. Your first step would, of course, be to offer training and professional development opportunities to help the staff back on the road to success. If this doesn't work, or the staff refuses to buy into the new way of doing business, then you may not have any other viable options than to fire your sales force.
3. The economy has had a negative impact on the company.
With the last recession, many people who had been with companies for several years suddenly found themselves out of work. Companies were forced to down size and find new ways to promote business. In dire economic times, you may be forced to outsource your sales department in order to save money to keep the company afloat. Saving money through these means is a common occurrence in tough economic times and can be a reason that you would have to fire the sales force.
It is always unfortunate when you have to fire an individual and it can be devastating to have to fire your entire sales force. There are, however, times when circumstances force your hand and you need to do whatever it takes to keep your company successful. That can mean taking the extraordinary step of firing your whole sales force.