Quit or be Fired? The Choice Might be Yours!

Lose Your Job the Right Way

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.

Getting Fired? It Can Happen To the Best!

Getting Fired?It is true that many professionals are losing their job. Hopefully it will not happen to you.  But if it does, you ultimate goal is to be prepared and be professional.  Losing ones job does happen.  Have your bases covered.  This post will show you how.


At some point in your life, you may have to endure the act of “getting fired.”  Obviously, there is no positive light when this is happening, yet it does happen in the world of sales.  One of the most common reasons has to do with performance.  Performance issues happen to sales professionals of all colors and backgrounds.  They can be particularly vexing for the Black sales professional because the stigma that getting fired carries coupled with preference and prejudice issues can severely limit hiring opportunities.

You may find a few articles and publication that talk about what happens when you get fired. Most of them make sure to mention that for a sales professional, this does not have to be a “death sentence.”  Most people, sales professionals included,  associate their livelihood with their identity, and can be devastated if they are terminated.  Additionally, changes in your relationships with co-workers, many of which you may classify as friends, can be just as shocking.  This is especially true with the suddenness of a sales termination.

There is no way to ‘get fired’ gracefully as you have are not in control.  Your reactions to the activity can be calculated and professional if you follow some of the suggestions below.

Prepare for the Future

This does not have to be a “death sentence”, yet it is a separation by any terminology.  You should always be prepared no matter how well you are doing in the job.  Since losing your job can happen for of a number of reasons, including the company ceasing to do business, you should have this plan in effect even if you are doing well.

Here are the items you should focus on:

  • Your Sales Contacts – Always have your prospect contact list duplicated on some type of accessible media.  Many sales professionals use a company issued phone, PDA, and computer.  Your contact’s information is on those devices, and your ability to recreate that information is limited once you are separated from it.  You have worked years to put it together, take this precaution.  As a sales professional this is ultra-important.
  • Key Contact Data - Have [your] Customer Profiles of your key clients up to date, and stored where you can access it—as discussed in(Black Sales Journal 1/20 Deepening Your Customer Relationships Part II). There are many that believe that client data such as this is company property.  I believe that when I have achieved the relationship that gives me personal access to client particulars about their family and social data, that it is my personal property based on my ability to be in the position to get the information in the first place.  A customer who has allowed you to be a “business friend” has not given you clearance to share his wife’s name and their personal particulars with the new sales professional who is left there to service the account.   It is yours, and it would be wrong to let that information go to someone without that status.
  • Have Your Contracts in Hand – Have access to your sales contracts.  It is important to have your signed copies in your possession, not in your files at your place of employment.  This would include your employment agreement (if you have one), your non-compete agreement, and any non-disclosures that you have signed.  This will tell you what you have agreed to do, especially including employment after termination. There is a possibility that some provisions change if you are separated by termination.
  • Know Your Rights re Final Payments – Have a copy of your sales compensation plan handy as well.  This will advise you of what is done regarding your final commissions/bonus payments if you have some coming.  If you have these papers, you don’t leave this most important area up to your former employer.
  • Document Your Accomplishments - Keep up-to-date copies of your sales numbers.  Your ability to get a job will be based on your ability to show past sales accomplishments.  Nothing shows this like the real numbers.

Time For New Opportunities

Now you are armed to seek out new opportunities.  If you did what is above, you will have the following:

  • An idea of your final compensation, and possibly a severance package which will tide you over until you are able to find another sales position.
  • Documentation of your sales success. Make sure no account names are showing, as any new employer will be watching to see this evidence of integrity.
  • A roster of your key contacts as well as a data sheet on contacts that you consider key enough to have developed Customer Profiles for.  Depending on your non-compete specifics, you want the ability to be back in business again at some point in the future.

A couple of notes that you should consider:

  • Don’t sign anything without a good legal review if you are in doubt. Don’t be cheap, get legal assistance if necessary.
  • In a journal, record all of the events that have to do with your job loss.  If you make a decision to contest anything, even your severance agreement, you will have listing of events that will give you instant credibility.
  • Leave the physical location ASAP. There is no reason to linger, or be told to leave.  If you do the things mentioned here, you won’t need to spend much time trying to figure out how to get your contacts, contracts, and your personal items.
  • Be amicable and be cool.  The decision is not going to change, so get the “skinny” on what you need to know, and get going, as there is much to be done.

If you are not prepared in this way, you could spend the rest of your sales career trying to get back up to speed.  Be careful and judicious with your information.  Remember to be smart!  Do not find yourself embroiled in legal scrimmaging by doing the right thing.

When it happens, you will appreciate that you have done these particulars.

Send any comments or questions to me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.

Thanks for reading.