When To Fire Your Sales Leader | Accountability Conversations


Scowl the web, and you will find many articles that list numerous reasons you should terminate your sales leader.

Often, articles list many responsibilities, duties, or traits neglected by a sales leader that distinguishes poor performance.


  • They’re late or poor managers of time.
  • The sales manager refuses to roll up their sleeves.
  • They miss targets.
  • They’re lazy.

These lists are never beneficial for CEOs.

So, when should you fire your sales leader? Two circumstances warrant a sales leader’s termination: failure to meet targets and poor culture fit. The bigger picture details will help you determine your decision to terminate or restructure in each of these circumstances.

Read and learn the types of questions you need to ask yourself and your sales leader to determine whether termination is the right choice for you and your organization.


To keep your sales leader or not? The question usually comes up right after you miss targets.

You may be thinking; a missed target isn’t an immediate cause for termination. You may be right.

It’s essential to understand how they missed the target.

Questions to ask:

  • Did you miss your target by a lot or a little?
  • If you missed them by a little, how were those targets missed?
  • Were the weekly and monthly milestones missed?
  • Were there milestones set at all?
  •  Were we tracking towards them?
  • If not, were there adjustments made?

These are the questions I ask my sales leader. But, the main thing I want to know is what did you do? What was your reaction, or did you fail to react?

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template

Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.

Failure to make adjustments

Okay. So, we missed our targets by a little.

Were adjustments made?

How did your sales leader anticipate the outcome to change magically if your sales leader made no adjustments?

It is the definition of insanity.

Insanity. We repeatedly do the same thing over and over, magically expecting a different result.

Sales leadership doesn’t work that way.

And that is a clear sign that the individual does not have all the tools they require to be your VP of Sales.

On the other hand, if your sales head makes adjustments and reads and reacts to the situation, that’s usually a good sign.

However, I would also argue that it depends significantly on their reaction.

Lacking creative measures

At this point, you’re evaluating your sales leader’s competency to meet future sales targets.

As CEO, you need to know that your VP of Sales will find a path when that path is blocked. And, if that path is blocked, they will forge a new direction in the viable territory.

A good sales manager or Head of Sales believes failure is not an option. Did they think their sales strategy could hit their ambitious targets?

Ask yourself:

  • Was there a sales strategy obvious?
  • What did your leader make a tough decision?
  • Was the decision based on a mixture of sales experience, statistically significant insights, and the moment decision making?


Termination usually is the last recourse because there is no coming back from that.

As a CEO, I want to clarify this: you should never be afraid to terminate.

However, ensure that this individual has no other role in your organization before firing someone.

A problem is consistently missing targets and not making adjustments to hit set targets.

And typically indicative of that individual not being a good fit for that role.

However, that doesn’t mean they should not remain in that organization.

If your sales leader has core value alignment, they’re a good culture fit, and they are committed to you and the goal, then maybe, you could reassign them to different duties and responsibilities.

As a CEO, I want to clarify this: you should never be afraid to terminate.

However, ensure that this individual has no other role in your organization before firing someone.


There are other situations in which you may want to remove a sales leader from their position in their interactions with your sales teams.

sales team and sales leader in a sales meeting

Ask yourself:

  • Are they making everybody else around them worse?
  • Are they making or creating a toxic environment that is not conducive to growth?
  • Have they cultivated a toxic culture that inhibits them from scaling a team?

Those are the main reasons you wouldn’t want that sales leader to continue working with you.

On the flip side, just because they make other people uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a poor culture fit.

Typically, when your VP of Sales is also a high performer, that is very intense. That is a Pacesetter.

Most organizations would kill to have somebody like that. That hits targets and continues to amplify the intensity of the organization.

So, ask yourself:

  • Is your person a poor culture fit and toxic?
  • Or are they intense, and the sales team is looking to bring them down?

Poor cultural fit signs

meeting between salespeople and sales leader

Realize that results, goals, and targets will give your insight…

But not always.

Consider these signs:


A sales director’s reason for employment is to act as a buffer for you from everyone else. The sales director fervently believes in your goals and relays them to the team through actively strategizing to achieve those goals.

An experienced sales manager will establish themselves as the spearhead for sales force success. So, if, instead, you have a sales rep approach you with questions or concerns about the goals or strategy, then your lead’s sales management is wrong.

Ask yourself:

  • How does your sales manager actively support the business’ mission and vision?


Bad leaders try their best to protect themselves at the expense of your sales staff. They will often blame the team effort.

Typically, you will find your top salesperson is not a team player. This can also be true of sales managers, VP of Sales, and all other types of salespeople.

That said, the VP must take the failings of the sales organization on their wings and course correct the entire team’s effort.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the sales leader take responsibility for the failings?
sales leader or sales team speaking to prospect


Above all else in the sales organization, the sales leader needs to develop the best sales team. Good sales management is often distinguished by the leader’s ability to attract top talent, but it is also essential to deal with a low-performing team member.

Just as CEOs should not be afraid to terminate, neither should a sales lead.

However, a good sales manager or leader should know when to intervene with course corrections conversations versus implementing forcing functions.

Ask yourself:

  • Do they look for coaching and guidance opportunities, or is support limited to sales rep performance review?


Get one thing straight: the sales hiring process is their responsibility. They are employed to attain and retain top talent. If there is a gap, they recruit to fill those gaps.

The sales leader’s job is to get the sales force up to scratch and support them in reaching their fullest potential.

Remember, high-performing sales teams want nothing to do with low achievers. Therefore, your sales leader needs to be your top seller and sales coach. Otherwise, you will lose your best people.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you retain your top performers? What is your sales rep retention rate?·
  • What is their demeanor in sales meetings? Are they confident, or are they nervous?
Above all else in the sales organization, the sales leader needs to be the best at culture control and sales team development.

Final Thoughts

sales leader and sales reps

Often CEOs will create many reasons to continue working with their sales leader.

Let’s be honest it’s uncomfortable to have that conversation with that sales leader.

But ultimately, if they are making the rest of the team worse or not hitting targets.

Why would you want to keep them around?

The Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template categorically unroots current challenges with your sales leader – essentially threats to your revenue. Our Template also identifies imminent challenges specifically.

We systematically guide you through a rubric of grading your sales leader on all the critical components of success and then some.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, and you have to pick one.

You can pick them or choose your goal, but you can’t have both.

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template
Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.
Ali Mirza
About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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