Quit or be Fired? That is the Question!

Pink Slipped

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.

The Ultimate Sales Professional II – Changing the Game!


Make your commitment to be the best!  Last week we talked about the skills and attributes of the very best sales professionals.  This week we take it a little further, and go even deeper!  You can actually change the game.  This post is access to a ton of information that will help you!


We continue to revisit this important topic on an in-depth basis.  This is where the differences are made!

In Part I we took an in-depth look at the traits of the Ultimate Sales Professional. If you missed it, you can access it by clicking here: Black Sales Journal 6/6, The Ultimate Sales Professional – Is this You?.

Part I looked at the traits that made this individual so highly desirable for sales managers and customers alike. Part II will look at the activities, which set this individual, apart. I am not saying that by doing these items you will be the ultimate sales professional, but it will be well on the way.

These activities exceed the norm for many sales professionals. Being Black and in sales means you have to always be on top of your game.   This group of actions is not over the top. These items represent what one must do to be the ‘best of breed’.  This is a chance to see how these items, applied well, can make an individual the crème de la crème of sales professionals.

Activities of Sourcing Prospects

Finding that next customer is something every sales professional has to think about on a daily basis.  This activity is the most important activity a sales professional will ever have. If you have this activity solved, you are well on the way to professional success.  This is the way the ultimate sales professionallooks at sourcing prospects:

  • Know Your Prospecting Formula and Ratios. This individual, the ultimate sales professional, knows how many prospects he or she really needs to be successful (Black Sales Journal 2/28, How Many Prospects Do You Really Need). This sales professional grades his or her prospects and recognizes how much time to spend on those with the highest grades while at the same time knows the ratios and law of large numbers.
  • Be accomplished at getting past the gatekeeper. This professional knows how to get past the gatekeeper and when that does not work as desired, knows how to get around the gatekeeper (Black Sales Journal 2/17, Getting Past the Gatekeeper).  Using these techniques on the phone and in person swells the prospect numbers creating a cache of potential proposals that his/her colleagues covet.
  • Be resourceful in the prospecting process- This individual knows how to get prospects in ways other than cold calling.  An example of it is that the ultimate sales professional finds prospects by conducting informational seminars not only for the benefit a customer/prospect, and also for his/her own benefit in finding ready-to-buy customers (See Black Sales Journal 3/24, Finding Prospects Through a Seminar).
  • Be an adept networker - This individual is solid in the art of networking. He or she knows that being at the right function with the right people can net leads beyond the normal cold-call.  This was explained in depth in Black Sales Journal 2/21, Networking for the Black Sales Professional.   The effective networking undertaken efficiently will pay dividends when the time is right.

Now that we know the rudiments of how this resourceful individual will find that necessary and continuing stream of prospects that turn to customers, lets take a look at how this individual works with customers.

The Customer Interface – Master It!

Once you have a valued customer, you must recognize that even though the customer can represent a lasting stream of income, almost an annuity, they also require “care and feeding”.  I know that this sounds somewhat abstract, yet think of it this way, and you will also be able to relate it to some things that you need to do on a continual basis.

The Ultimate Sales Professional does this extremely well.  Let’s look at a few of his tactics:

Don’t forget the customer relationship issues discussed in the last post, as these points beckon stronger, more durable, relationships that are founded on value.  (Black Sales Journal 7/15, The Ultimate Sales Professional Part I)

More To Come

Knowing the activities and customer interface techniques that the best would need to be accomplished, you can now rest assured that it does not stop here.  Black sales professionals should embody these traits as your quest for ‘preference’ in the eyes of a buyer is riddled with inequities, including the fact that you will need to be better than your peers.   In the next post Part III (which will post on Thursday 6/13, we will examine the other elements that pull it all together.  Join us as we discuss “where the differences are made!”

Let me know how you receive these and whether the picture is getting clear.

Your comments are welcome.