Getting fired is hardly a pleasant experience. Even if you know you deserved it. But there’s usually something of a silver lining – lessons that could transform you into a star performer in your next sales position. Top salespeople look for ways to learn from all their experiences, both negative and positive.
Besides, even the best among us can get fired. Savvy Shark Tank regular Barbara Corcoran once revealed she has been fired four times. (You feel better now, don’t you?) She turns the tables, too, firing a quarter of her own salespeople every year. The truth is, sales is a tough job. And sometimes the fit just isn’t there. In that case, everyone is better off when you and your employer part company.
What can you learn from being fired?
In detail, what you learn depends on why you were fired. Even if you actually quit your job, it’s time for some self-reflection. Understanding why you chose to leave will help you find a better fit next time.
Were your sales skills lacking?
If you weren’t producing as expected, losing your job should be no surprise. Your employer was depending on revenue generated by you to operate and make a profit. It could be that sales isn’t the right type of job for you. But let’s assume this is, indeed, your true calling.
- Did you coast? Living off your previous laurels or avoiding the less-than-fun basics such as prospecting never lead to success. You’re just taking up space.
- Did you follow up – consistently and relevantly?
- Did you clearly differentiate your company and products or services from competitors? To be effective, you have to position yourself as the best choice for prospects.
- Did you show prospects how you could (and would) personally serve them better?
- Did you take advantage of professional learning opportunities to sharpen (or maintain) your sales skills and industry knowledge?
- Did you forecast unrealistic numbers for yourself, just to look good? Over-promising backfires, doesn’t it?
Did you not fit in well?
Are you a lone wolf instead of a team player? Successful sales teams are just that – groups of people who might work independently but who also support and applaud one another. Self-esteem and a relatively thick skin are essential in sales, but if you came across as arrogant or stand-offish, you weren’t helping no matter how great your numbers.
Are you a reluctant communicator? You aren’t the only one who needs to know the status of prospects and pending deals within your pipeline. Did you leave your sales manager or the C-suite wondering? Or, conversely, did you bury them in blither or data overload when they asked questions? Worst of all, did you lie about your prospects or progress?
Many companies use CRM and other software applications to streamline day-to-day work as well as communication. It’s often the key information conduit between marketing and sales. Did you take responsibility for immediately updating your prospect and customer data as things changed? Or did you leave everyone hanging, with outdated information?
Whatever your introspection reveals, clearly defining the reasons for your departure will help you make a personal plan to improve.
Since you’ll be interviewing for a new sales position, you’ll have to address the fact that you were fired. Buck up. Remember that you’re not alone. And focus on the positive. Explain (briefly) how the lessons you have learned will make you a better-than-ever, bang-up producer for your new company.
If you are a great fit this employer, it could be a match made in heaven. A chance for you to really shine, and a chance for the company to see a significant increase in sales revenue and profits. No chance of being fired for that!