Sales Hiring Probation 

One of the companies I work with asked an interesting question – when you hire a sales person and they are underperforming,  how do you know when to terminate them; at the same time, since they need to be performing to cover our investment in them how can we ensure they are trained as quickly as possible.

Starting with the latter issue, how do you account for the training time in bringing a sales person to a productive level. Firstly, you can’t make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant, some things just take time. Onboarding and training a new sales person will take time, generally we can consider that to be the purpose of a probation period, typically 3 months in most companies, we can also assume that by the 3rd month there should be some evidence that the person can perform their job to a reasonable standard, just arbitrarily say 75% performance. 

Turning to the question of performance, typically sales people will have targets, you can therefore determine an annual target for the sales person, then, divide by the number of fully performing months, so if we know the sales person has 3 months probation, the target should be divided over 9 months. Now, it’s important to note that this monthly target based on 9 months still need to be reasonable to accomplish, otherwise no one will reach it. This being said, now you have the same target accomplished by the candidate taking into account their training period. You can also assess their probation since by month 3 they should be at 75% of their target. 

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