A conversation today in the sales department:
Your Manager – “You are not getting it done. Your territory is underdeveloped, and we are prepared to go in a different direction. We are prepared to terminate you effective immediately.” He goes on to say, “However, if you would prefer to resign we would be willing to extend some benefits that you would not get otherwise. We would request you produce a letter of resignation and sign a severance agreement.”
You – “I am not sure of what I should do? I need to think about it. I will get back to you tomorrow.”
There is nothing gracious about this moment. There will potentially be a moment when you realize that you are probably going to be taking your talents elsewhere. Of course it may not be your choice.
Since there is nothing gracious about any of it, you should understand that in most cases as this is not personal, it is business. Business can be cold sometimes…actually frigid might be a better word.
Let’s talk about a decision that could affect your future. The implications affect both your current and future employment, and you should know them now as when the going gets rough, you don’t want to be deliberating while steeped in emotion.
Should I Resign?
Most sales professionals will deal with this in their lives at some point. Whether it is because of lack of ability, weak product, poor territory, out-of-line pricing, or some other factor, it is not uncommon to reach the end of the line with your employer. The Black sales professional have even a little more to be concerned about as credibility for future jobs comes at a premium.
If you have been on a sales performance program (see BSJ 4/30, Are You on a Sales Performance Program? Can You Beat it?) you recognize that one of the common features is that there is usually a trigger date; that date which termination is imminent. On this date you are going to have to make this important decision.
Apart from the obvious reasons for importance, you are faced with some important alternatives. Here is why it is important:
- Concerns with Unemployment Compensation –you normally don’t get it if you voluntarily leave your position.
- Your need for employee benefits – this problem happens whether you resign or are fired.
- Concerns with credibility and marketability – as it would concern future employers may be preserved. This is not as prevalent in sales, but certainly is true in other occupations.
When you face this moment, you must realize that the sales occupation is a little bit different than many other professions in the fact that terminations are not wholly uncommon. In almost all situations, the objective of the employer is to quickly end the employment relationship.
At this point, you may want out as well, it is how it is done that is important. In some states and situations, resigning can rob you of the rights to your unemployment benefits. These benefits could be your lifeline while you are out of work.
Resigning may give you an opportunity to negotiate the terms of your resignation. A lot depends on the strength of the ‘case’ against you and how badly they want you out. Negotiation may be a strong word in this case, but you might be able to get some better terms for your termination.
Should I Get Fired?
Being fired evokes strong emotions. Obviously it is a still a termination, but it sometimes creates a feeling of powerlessness and victimization.
Aside from the emotional, this termination can have its good and bad points as well:
- You normally get a severance package. Nothing comes without exacting some price, and in this case it probably will be your right to an employment action of any type. Remember, once you sign the severance agreement, you are ‘toast’ regarding any action that you may later seek.
- Most sales professionals don’t get fired for doing something egregiously wrong; they get fired for not producing the right sales numbers.
- Sales, as an occupation, differs from many other positions in that there is a minimal stigma to getting fired for lack of production or effectiveness.
- If there is a ‘package’ of some type as an incentive for leaving quietly, you will probably have your noncompete agreement copied and put in front of you as a part of any severance you get. You may want to negotiate this carefully as your ability to work for another employer is dependent on not having a restriction!
Terminated for Cause?
This is the exception to all of the rules. If you have done any of the ‘infractions’ that result in a legitimate termination for cause, you could potentially leave with nothing.
These infractions include, but are not limited to:
- Intentional acts of fraud against the company
- Stealing from your employer
- On the job drinking or drug use (as defined by the employee handbook)
- Intentional breech of company policies
- Wanton damage to company property
Some Points to Remember
We are talking about sales personnel, and that is a defining point. I am pointing out the fact that even the best sales professionals find themselves in situations that result in termination. They move on and find success elsewhere. It is the way it goes.
When your previous company is contacted regarding your role there, they are extremely limited as to what they will say. They normally only give the following information:
- Verification of employment and title
- Verification of dates of employment
- Verification of salary at termination
Larger firms stick to these numbers and go no further. None of this is incriminating.
Make a wise decision based on calculated information.
Always be prepared.
Your comments are welcome. Contact me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.