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Catalytic Management

Manager's Checklist  for Terminating Sales People

Cover Your .......

Economic drivers are certainly forcing businesses to reduce costs and layoffs are one way of saving money.  Ideally, layoffs should target non-performers rather than cutting staff across the board.  It is never easy to lay off people.  The emotional aspects often overshadow the needs of the business.  And quite frankly, laying off sales people is particularly tricky.  I recently worked with a client who was preparing to lay off sales people.  My advice to the client was before you pull that trigger, you need to conduct a “sales risk assessment”.  The sales risk assessment will uncover all of your areas of vulnerability, should the terminated employee decide to “pay you back” for setting them free.  There are specific actions you should take to protect your company not just from legal challenges but also to protect your “sales intellectual property”.  Remember, terminating a sales person is vastly more complicated than terminating others in the company—sales people are the direct connection to your most important asset, your customers!


According to Heather Edelman, President of Strategies For Growth, a Human Resources consulting firm in Newton, “the first element of the risk assessment is to clearly define why this person is being let go, review the facts to support your position, especially what’s in writing, then do a cost/benefit analysis to understand the upside and downside of the action you’re about to take”. 


I asked Heather to work with me to develop an Employee Termination Checklist with detailed actions you can and should take to protect you, your company and your clients.  Lawsuits and revenue sabotage can be prevented.  You will find the complete Employee Termination Checklist at these links:


The full checklist includes actions for each department and / or aspect of your business and is applicable regardless of the position or person you are terminating.  


The highlights of the checklist are below.  Failing to plan and think carefully before terminating anyone but especially sales people, is very likely to cost you money, time and serious angst.


Your CYA Employee Termination Checklist

(click here for full list)


Information Systems

What must be done to protect your files, databases and CRM System? When will you change passwords etc?


Customer / Client Communication

What effect if any will the termination have on your company’s reputation?  On your clients? How will you communicate the change to your clients?


Account Protection

Do you have a plan for smoothly transitioning accounts to another sales person?  What is involved?


Replacement Strategy

If you are going to replace the sales person, do you have a recruitment strategy in place before you terminate the current person?


Financial Repercussions

What financial aspects must be considered as a result of the termination?  Who is vulnerable? The company?  The terminated employee?


Staff Morale

How will other employees be affected by this termination?  What should be done to support them?  To maintain productivity?


Legal Ramifications

What are the legal and associated financial risks?  What steps will be taken, in advance, to mitigate them?  If the company is sued, can you defend your decision?


Severance Payment

Will severance be paid?  How will it be calculated?  Will a signed release be required?


Exit Meeting

What information must be covered?  How will the employee react?  Are contingencies needed to deal with extreme emotions or potential violence?  What are the company’s legal obligations at termination?


Post Termination

How will you communicate the change to coworkers?  Managers?  What questions do you anticipate and how will you answer them?


Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”  It is all too easy to see the act of terminating an employee as a singular action that requires only minimal conversation and thus little preparation.  If managers plan for anything, it is usually how to handle an emotional situation and once that has been addressed, well the rest is easy.  Wrong, and especially, wrong when terminating a sales person.  Fail to plan in this situation and you are truly planning to fail!


Call Catalytic Management today for sales skills assessments and assistance with building or reconfgiuring your sales team. 


To see the full

Termination Checklist,

click on one of the links below:


Catalytic Management


Strategies For Growth is a Human Resources consulting firm helping small to midsize companies get the best return on their investment in people. Growing businesses rely on them to help create high-performance organizations, minimize employer risk and manage their ongoing HR needs.




Articles for Managers:


"Sales Managers Cheat Sheet to Sales Comp Plans"  click here


"Reducing Your Company’s Risk With An Employee Handbook"  click here


"Are you Dependent on Just a Few Cients?  50/30 Alarm System Can Help"

click here


"Communicating To Your Employees—An Excellent ROI"  click here


"Keep Your Customers From The Revoloving Door"  click here

Catalytic Management
67 Edgehill Road • Stow, MA 01775
Phone: 978-562-5001 • Web:

Catalytic Management specializes in business performance and growth consulting
including sales effectiveness, customer service and business process improvement for companies
in New England and the Northeast.
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