Recruitment Insight

What is the primary reason we hesitate to fire an underperforming manager in the SaaS/Tech space?

As CEOs, CROs, and MDs in the SaaS and Tech industry, one common refrain we often hear is, “In hindsight, we should have let them go much sooner than we did.” This sentiment reflects the challenges faced by many organizations when dealing with underperforming Sales Leaders. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind our hesitance and identify the red flags that may indicate our Sales Leader is not the best fit for the job.

The Hesitation:

1. Emotional Attachment:

When a Sales Leader has been with the company for a long time or has personal connections within the organization, emotional attachment can make it difficult to make the tough decision of letting them go. Such attachments cloud judgment and hinder us from taking necessary actions.

2. Fear of Legal Consequences:

Concerns about potential legal repercussions, like wrongful termination lawsuits, often give pause to employers contemplating the dismissal of an underperforming Sales Leader. It is essential to ensure that termination decisions are based on legitimate reasons and are backed by proper documentation and procedures to mitigate legal risks.

3. Replacement Challenges:

Terminating a Sales Leader means finding a suitable replacement, which can be time-consuming and costly. The difficulty of this process often weighs heavily on the decision-making process, especially if there are concerns about finding a competent replacement quickly.

4. Team Disruption:

The dynamics of a team can be significantly disrupted when a long-standing Sales Leader is let go. Employers are understandably hesitant to cause disruptions or negatively impact team morale by taking such action.

Identifying the Red Flags:

1. Lack of Results:

An underperforming Sales Leader consistently failing to meet sales targets or achieve key performance indicators (KPIs) could be indicative of their inability to effectively lead the sales team or execute the sales strategy.

2. Poor Leadership Skills:

Effective leadership is crucial for a Sales Leader. A lack of leadership qualities, such as ineffective communication, lack of vision, or an inability to inspire and develop the team, should be considered warning signs.

3. Weak Sales Strategy:

Sales Leaders are responsible for developing and implementing a robust sales strategy. An inability to think strategically, adapt to market changes, or identify new opportunities may indicate a problem.

4. Inadequate Team Management:

Effective team management is vital for a Sales Leader's success. Signs of poor team management include low morale, high turnover rates, internal conflicts, or a lack of training and development opportunities.

5. Resistance to Feedback:

A good Sales Leader should be open to feedback and willing to learn and adapt. If you notice your Sales Leader is resistant to feedback, dismisses suggestions, or fails to take corrective actions based on feedback, it may indicate a lack of a growth mindset.

6. Poor Relationship Building:

Building strong relationships with clients, partners, and stakeholders is essential for sales success. If your Sales Leader struggles to establish and maintain relationships or lacks effective networking skills, it may negatively impact overall sales performance.


The challenge of dealing with underperforming Sales Leaders is not unique and continues to be a pressing issue in the SaaS and Tech industry. As we navigate 2023's market conditions, it becomes imperative to recognize the red flags and take decisive action. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can build stronger, more effective sales teams and drive our organizations towards success.

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