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Latest Blogpost: Mis-selling the job
Dealing with failing employees is unfortunately quite a frequent aspect of an HR consultant’s role. However, it struck me after having looked at all the occasions I have been asked to do this, the vast majority are for sales or business development employees who have not met their targets. It seems that the candidates have been very successful at selling themselves and their capabilities to the prospective employers, but that they don’t always live up to the promises they make.

Yes, there will be some time needed to settle into the role and, if it is a field sales role, to get to know the territory and the potential clients, but there comes a time when that initial period is over and the employer is looking for results. That’s when the excuses start: it’s a bad time of year; there are sales in the pipeline but they won’t come to fruition for another few months; I’m waiting for X to come back from holiday/ sick leave/ maternity leave; I need more time off the road to do my paperwork; I need a better computer/ iPhone/ car; the targets are unreasonable etc. Some of these may sound familiar!

Now of course, some of these reasons may be entirely reasonable depending on the circumstances, but if you have incentivised the wrong thing – e.g. sales rather than margin, you may find that they have sold services/ goods, but at such a discount that it is costing more to have the sales person than it would be just to let the sales come in by themselves. Some employers report that the employees are doing nothing more than counting those sales orders that come in directly to the business from their “patch” without them being involved, so making it clear from the start as to what is included in any bonus scheme and what is not, is crucial.

Sometimes when I see this happening and when I look back at the employee’s career history, I find that they have not stayed with any other employer more than a few months at a time. This often means that they have had a history of failing to meet their targets and being dismissed as a consequence. Candidates like this should be viewed with a degree of caution, or they are likely to do the same to you too.

In fairness, sometimes I find that the employee was not really aware that the job they have been given is a “sales” job or that meeting targets is a critical part of the role. This is because they haven’t been given a clear enough brief by the employer as to their expectations. It may simply not be something they enjoy and makes them stressed and anxious or had realised the consequences of not meeting targets.

So if you have a sales or business development role that you need filling, please make sure that you make it quite clear to any prospective candidates what is expected before they sign up. Don’t assume that they know what is involved. It will save a lot of management time and expense later. If you need any assistance with any of the issues raised in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Posted on 19 Apr 2017


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