Why You Should Fire Your Sales Manager Or Boss

The Sales Manager’s job is to provide an environment within which their sales people can succeed. This means providing intrinsic competitive value in the product, service or solution being sold. Then viable territories and targets, the right levels of support, training and enablement tools, demand generation leadership, and remove internal roadblocks. What more could you possibly ask for? Well for me there is one more thing – positive values and leadership. Success is a partnership and all the elements need to be in place for a team to be effective. Synergy is amazingly powerful stuff when everything comes together.

But life is too short to work with people you neither like nor respect. The first boss I fired was good person and we remain friends today but he could not provide me with a viable territory. It wasn’t really his fault, and he had been told to hire a sales person to ‘dominate the white space’… LOL! I discovered, painfully, that the ‘white space’ is that part of the market that’s already being serviced by your competitors or where there is little need for what is being offered.

But before I had the difficult conversation about our future together I worked hard for 6 months ‘trail-blazing our value proposition’ into a new vertical. I did the analysis by sizing the market, profiling potential clients and finding the industry influencers. I ran demand generation initiatives by working closely with marketing and I met with the industry leaders. I adopted a top-down selling approach to overcome the resistance we were encountering at mid-levels.

I felt I had earned the right and am committed to success and I said to my boss: “Either you’re going to fire me in 9 months for poor performance or I’m going to fire you in the 60 days for not providing me with a patch in which I can be successful. I’m happy to keep building this new vertical but I also need additional territory if I am to make my number.”

Seriously, when you’re at the interview, always ask: What’s my territory going to be, how viable is it? Also ask: ‘What happened here to make this role available – why wasn’t my predecessor successful?’

Before we continue, have a smile watching this video about Joshua Peters and Michael Blunt from my book. At the end of this post share your most outrageous stories concerning someone firing their boss. Perhaps via e-mail telling them to open their top drawer where the security pass, laptop and final expense claim is sitting?

In one of my posts I provide guidance to sales managers on who belongs in their sales team and how do they decide who needs to be managed-out? The “rule of 24” helps them make the decision but for sales people assessing whether to fire their boss I recommend the three Cs. The following is an excerpt from my Book, The Joshua Principle.

Success is a 50:50 proposition. By this I mean that you bring fifty percent of the potential for success and your employer represents the other side of the equation. You know that companies look for Competence, Commitment, and Character or Cultural fit when hiring someone and you should also consider these same things in evaluating your potential employer. In addition to the three Cs, you need them to discuss the three Ps. You should evaluate the potential for success within their organization based upon their response to the following topics: People, Proposition and Patch. Your employer has an obligation to provide an environment within which you can be successful. This means that they need to have people you are proud to work with (competent, committed and of good character), and a value proposition that is uniquely differentiated in the market; and a territory – patch – that is viable with an achievable quota.

Another good reason to fire your boss, or client for that matter, is when there is misalignment of values. An immutable law of selling is that people buy from those they like and trust… they also stay and work with those they like and trust.

Is your boss a person of integrity? The best boss I ever had was a woman. I think we need more female leaders because they are naturally wired for better relationships and better morality. People who are trying hard need to be nurtured, not napalmed with flame-thrower forecast pressure from lunatic managers seeking to manage what cannot be managed – revenue. Jason Jordan will convince you this is true.

Another boss I fired was the regional VP and I was country manager for Australia. He was a slippery soul, very cunning and good at self-optimization. He was happy to bold-face lie to staff about them being okay, and then instruct me quietly later to fire them. He happily abused his expense account and travelled internationally for his own personal purposes, staying in the finest hotels with limousines driving him everywhere. I didn’t handle it at all well but I learned much about how not to fire your boss.

The last time I fired my boss was after receiving an e-mail telling me to fire 40% of my employees in 48 hours by booking 15 minute back-to-back appointments before office hours in a hotel lobby to then hand them envelopes and advise they were locked out of the office and all systems. It was suggested that I follow the script and tell them that someone would be in touch to make a time for them come and collect a box with their stuff in it. At the time we were the most profitable region in the world – #1 amongst 40 offices globally. But when acquisitions happen, strange decisions get made. This true story is featured in an upcoming book on leadership written by Anthony Howard: Humanise, Why Human Centred Leadership Is The Key To The 21st Century.

So as you consider your current career; does your boss care about you, is he committed to your success? Is she competent? Do you have aligned values? Choose those with whom you share your life; especially with your work.

Photo is of legendary voice artist and actor, Matt Wills. Video was produced by Joel Philips who also plays role of Joshua Peters. Joel is a man of many talents… musician, actor, producer and leader.

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Tony Hughes
Tony Hughes has 35 years of corporate and sales leadership experience having generated record-breaking results as a salesperson, head of sales, and CEO leading the Asia-pacific region for multi-nationals. He is a best-selling author, consultant, trainer and keynote speaker. Tony is Co-founder and Sales Innovation Director at Sales IQ Global. He serves on advisory boards and has been published by The American Management Association. Tony has also taught sales for Sydney University, University of New South Wales, and within the MBA program at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has been ranked #1 sales blogger globally by both Top Sales Magazine and Best Sales Blogger Awards. Tony is ranked a top 3 sales expert and thought leader globally by LinkedIn and the most read person on the topic of B2B selling within their platform. He has more than 500,000 blog followers and has been rated the most influential person in professional selling within Asia-Pacific three years in a row. His first book, The Joshua Principle – Leadership Secrets of Selling, is in its 10th printing and his most recent books, COMBO Prospecting and Tech-Powered Sales are published by HarperCollins Leadership New York. Tony speaks at conferences internationally and his clients are some of the best-known brands in the world including Salesforce, Grant Thornton, SAP, IBM, Flight Centre Travel Group, Adobe, Siemens, Docusign and other market leaders.