I always preferred staff management over line management for one really big reason: staff managers never have to fire an employee. The two major categories for involuntary termination are for lack of performance or for “cause.”
Lack of performance termination should be conducted in a manner that provides detailed documentation. Management has failed the employee miserably if they’re surprised by the termination notification.
Salespeople accomplishments are the most obvious and measureable. I always encourage line managers to monitor calls and quotes rather than just bookings. This identifies problems early. For instance, some sales personnel are great at setting appointments but struggle with getting past the first call in the selling cycle. The best coaches will start riding with the salesperson and critique immediately after each first call. Often it’s a matter of leaving something out of the presentation or not using their selling tools.
While this may seem academic, sales trainees can sit through seminars, ride with veterans, study tapes, and read all the books, but still leave out portions of a presentation because they deem it unnecessary. They need to be reminded that every prospect has the right to see everything we offer. Remind them that even though they’ve seen the material before, they can’t assume the prospect has.
This is the time to implement some short term goals. It could include role playing with other employees in the conference room or completing his/her selling kit (a 3-in.binder filled with every selling tool available). If improvement hasn’t been evident over the next few weeks, then set short term objectives — including calls, quotes, and bookings.
Unlike short term goals, short term objectives are constructed of hard numbers. Five first calls per week; four final presentations; and $100,000 in new bookings by (date, exactly 90 days out). At the moment of implementation, the employee should be aware that management won’t accept anything less than the objectives set forward and, if the employee falls short on the bookings number, termination will follow. Most managers make the serious mistake of bending the numbers and/or time frames. This sends a loud message to all other employees.