What To Do When You Get FIRED in Sales
Your Sales Career Advice from the Hired Gun
So, you’re Fired from sales. You’re not alone.
Lee Iacocca is a big business Hired Gun in the automotive industry for three decades. Newsweek leads its review of his autobiography, by quoting the first few pages of the book.
“‘On July 13, 1978, I was fired. I had been president of Ford for eight years and a Ford employee for 32. It was gut-wrenching. ‘From his spacious suite atop World Headquarters, attended by white-coated servants, he was exiled to ‘Siberia,’ a warehouse cubicle in the farthest corner of Henry Ford’s kingdom. ‘Don’t get mad,’ his wife, Mary reminded him. ‘Get even.’ Iacocca went to Chrysler, and the rest was history.”
Iacocca moves across town to the competition. As Chairman of Chrysler he saves the #3 automaker from bankruptcy two times. Ironically, not long afterward the Chrysler board forces him to retire.
What does he do? He defines George Herbert’s great adage that, “Living well is the best revenge.”
Iacocca launches Iacocca Capital Partners in Los Angeles. He joins the board of Kirk Kerkorian’s MGM Grand in Las Vegas, then works with Native Americans to build casinos on their tribal lands.
There aren’t many luminaries as bright as Lee Iacocca in the world of automobile manufacturing. Yet he gets fired twice after producing outstanding results at both Ford and Chrysler.
Likewise, in the world of television, there aren’t many automobile celebrities as popular as Jeremy Clarkson. For over 20 years he stars on Top Gear with his comical sidekicks, James May and Richard Hammond.
… is the number one factual TV show – “in the world” – for many years.
350 Million Viewers Per Episode – Fired
In March, 2015 Jeremy Clarkson’s “contract is not renewed”. Motoring is not the same after Clarkson’s firing. Out of loyalty, his cohosts Hammond and May decline returning to the BBC show for the next season.
As the original hosts of the BBC series Top Gear, they are controversial, humorous, outspoken, and just plain fun.
Each week, the Top Gear producers place them in life-challenging situations. They drive and critique cars all over the world before a global audience of 350 million viewers in 214 territories.
CBS’ 60 Minutes calls the show, “a billion dollar global goldmine for the BBC.”
Unfortunately, a Top Gear producer fouls up. He fails to make hot food available for the lead host after a long day of grueling driving stunts. Jeremy Clarkson punches him, and his 10 million/year BPS contract is “not renewed”.
I do not envy the BBC’s CEO, Lord Tony Hall. It’s his decision not to renew Clarkson’s contract with BBC. This is a decision to lose many of millions of viewers and British Pounds Sterling.
When you own the opera house, you put up with the prima donnas. You don’t have to put up with the stage hands, or the dress extras, but the prima donnas fill the seats in the opera halls.
Law of the Hired Gun with gratitude to Joe Charbonneau
Amazon hires all three BBC exhiles, plus their production crew. Their new program, The Grand Tour opens its very first program on Prime with a huge in-your-face salute.
The Hothouse Flowers open Johnny Nash’s popular song, “I Can See Clearly Now.” A grim Jeremy Clarkson hands his office keys to an attendant in front of the BBC building. As Clarkson’s taxi departs London’s rainy gloom we overhear his termination announcement by BBC’s CEO Lord Tony Hall.
Clarkson departs London Heathrow Airport and arrives at Los Angeles’ LAX. His car rental is a blue 725-horsepower, supercharged Galpin Fisker Ford Mustang Rocket.
The blue Rocket Mustang roars out of LAX down the sunlit highway. Two other Mustangs fan out from behind him, James May driving a red one, Richard Hammond driving one in white.
Suddenly, the trio blows through an enormous cast of exciting cars crossing the California desert. ZZ Top’s Cadzilla, Lamborghinis, Hellcats, Rolls Royces kick up dust plumes in a gallant tribute as the mustangs roar past.
They roll through a cheering crowd of thousands to the Hothouse Flowers playing on a large stage at Burning Van, USA. The Breitling Jet Team of eight Aero Albatrosses performs a dramatic fly-by overhead.
Then the three presenters are introduced to the crowd:
That was the Hothouse Flowers! And look what we have here! He was FIRED by Car magazine, FIRED by Autocar magazine, FIRED by Scotland on Sunday, and somehow he managed to get FIRED by a Volvo dealership, probably for driving too slowly, ladies and gentlemen—James May! (Huge ovation).
Thank you, thank you, you’re very kind. And ladies and gentlemen, you probably can’t see him from the back but I assure you he is here! He was FIRED by Radio York, FIRED by Radio Leeds, and FIRED by Radio Lancashire! It’s Richard Hammond! (Huge ovation).
Thank you! And over here, he’s basically a shaved ape in a shirt, and he technically is the only one of us never to be FIRED by anyone. It’s Jeremy Clarkson!
That’s the way to handle getting fired.
Do not feel bad that you got whacked.
It happens to everyone, especially the best everyones, as above.
Beyond something like punching a producer, you normally get fired for one of two reasons: 1) you’re incompetent at your job, or 2) you’re superlative at it to the extent you make others envious and fearful.
I’m going to take a wild guess about you. Because you’re the kind of person who seeks and reads articles like this, you are the latter.
Everybody gets FIRED.
It isn’t the firing that matters,
but the future that opens up before you.
Law of the Hired Gun
Firing Lesson #1: It May Not Actually Happen
One of my best friends gets called in to get fired. He tells our sales manager, “Don’t threaten me with my job; it pisses me off.” The next thing I know, he’s back at his desk across from me. On his phone. Selling.
You might be able to pull this off and talk your Suit out of it too, if you want to.
Or, you can protest for wrongful termination and file a lawsuit
If you do, make sure you have an iron-clad case. Today when companies fire someone, it is not unlike getting raided by the Department of Justice. You’re focused on doing your job. Therefore you don’t pick up on the telltale signs around you.
(See our previous blog, Are You Too Good As NUMBER ONE In Sales?)
The Suits have all the time in the world to build and document a case against you. Thus, you get caught by surprise. You walk into work one day, get called into an office, and get ambushed. Shot. Whacked. Fired.
If you contest it, make absolutely sure you’re in the right.
Have all your facts in order and documented.
Get the biggest Great White Shark law firm you can find.
Call a meeting with the person who whacked you.
Bring your attorneys.
Let them do their job.
At worst, you’ll have the satisfaction of creating discomfort.
Better, you might get reinstated.
Best, you may come out with a very, very strong severance package …
At this point, what do you have to lose?
Firing Lesson #2: Are They Doing You a Favor?
More than likely, you’re set free from the shackles of micromanagement at your Mature Market company. Now you can go find another Genesis enterprise at which you can achieve.
Let’s say you are the top producer. Let’s say you get whacked because your success makes somebody else envious.
If your former company’s culture is that bad, it’s time for you to get out anyway.
You just got bushwhacked. Next time you’ll know better and saddle up on your own terms.
I got whacked from my inside sales job worth the 2020 equivalent of $330,000 a year. The Geek-Speak Suit said,
“Um, OK, um, we have met, and, um, it is, um, management’s decision that in the future direction of the company, um, you are no longer part of that direction. Um, OK.”
I have to admit, the Geek-Speak Suit who whacked me from my $330,000-a-year job did me a favor. Under his lack of leadership, the company had gone straight downhill for a year.
I was indeed off in my own “different direction”, doing extremely well. It could have ended with me up hanging around too long. My income might have dwindled in sync with the rest of the company’s revenues.
The Hired Gun Goes High Tech
I didn’t know anything at all about high-tech but observed the growing high-tech trend in sales at the time. Getting fired allowed me to step back, increase my perspective and look into new sales ideas.
It ended up showing me the door – to a huge move forward in my sales career. This move to high tech sales became the direction of my next 20 years in business. A very lucrative 20 years.
Firing Lesson #3: Have a Party!
Yes, definitely. Really. Throw an “I Just Got Fired!” party.
This isn’t just some war story from a sales guy. This isn’t just some sunshine pump fluff. This is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Throw a party immediately, the same day you get whacked. If you’re reading this a few days or weeks later, that’s OK, have it as soon as possible. The point is, celebrate your new beginning!
Strike while the iron is hot.
Immediately get word back to your best friends at your former office. Tell them you’re throwing a party at your place (or at your favorite bar) that night.
Celebrate the fact that “Pheeeeonnnh! I’m outta here!” Get word out to your social spheres, get word out to everyone. Open bar! On me! Tonight!
It’s OK to tell them you would really like for them to be there in support. They know you just took a bullet. You’ll be surprised how fast, how many people show up to give their support.
Besides, they’re probably just a little bit envious of you. You no longer have to endure the conga line dance numbers put on by Armani and the Suits.
Here’s an email invite template to help you get started:
EMAIL: Subject: “I just got Fired! Help me celebrate!“
Content: “Swing by tonight to help me celebrate my new direction!” (details: where – when) and “Please Forward.” Wouldn’t you go to that party if it was a friend of yours? (With an open bar?)
Here’s what happens.
At the apex of the evening, you blast out a song.
Johnny Paycheck twangs, “Take This Job and Shove It!“
You pop the cork on your bottle of champagne in the middle of your group.
The action alone signifies celebration. The sound is that of a starting gun for the next leg of your race.
You’re not down in the dumps. You’re on top of the world – partying with your closest friends and acquaintances!
Plus, filling out little boxes in your company’s holy CRM and the day-to-day stress of your old job is gone. Let them worry about those things now.
Play tonight. You can sleep in tomorrow.
Your friends support you and volunteer to help in various ways. They admire your positive attitude. The word gets out that you’re available.
What happens when savvy business owners learn that a 5-Star player is available? When our vulture capitalists sold us out and we were all fired, our competition immediately scooped up five of us.
They didn’t know what to do with us but saw enormous talent on the table. We played poker all day every day for two weeks while they figured it out.
Soon after, we five developed our own all-new ad program. In the first two months we delivered a net, net bottom line profit of $110,000/month in 2020 funds.
The message just needs to land on ears that belong to someone who needs a top-tier sales rep. A savvy owner scoops you up even if there isn’t a position open. Yet.
Be sure to check your messages the very next morning. Demand for true top talent is high. You’ll may well have a voicemail from someone who heard you’re suddenly available and needs sales help.
The American business jungle lives on supply and demand. Reps of your quality and experience are in short supply. You’ll get picked up.
Firing Lesson #4: Take the High Road
Bashing your former employer—or anybody for that matter—only makes you look small. You may dislike them. Or, you may hate their guts and want to drag them naked across a field of broken glass behind a tractor-trailer semi. Keep it to yourself.
Maybe the Suit who fired you finds out about your party and has the cojones to show up. Be gracious. Invite him in.
Who knows? He might have been ordered above his protestations by some Senior Suit to fire you. That happened to me, too.
Or, he might just be a jerk. Either way, exercising grace rarely counts against you. Conversely, it always comes back to you in a good way.
You’re never wrong when you do the right thing.
Firing Lesson #5: Create Your Big Book of You
You sell everything else well; it’s time to sell yourself. Go far beyond what other people show when they interview for a new position.
Everybody in the world has a resume. So do you. Make sure it’s as tight and exciting to read as possible.
More important, create a supplemental Big Book of You.
The Suit that interviews you sees hundreds of resumes. Many proclaim “increased revenue,” “grew my sales territory,” or “top producer four years in a row.”
Please don’t misunderstand me, you need to announce these things as well. But those are just the beginning, merely the headlines.
You want to go deeper than that, and you should. You have a lot more to offer, and you can document your achievements.
Put together an attractive business-oriented, three-ring binder. Use professional index tabs to divide sections of pertinent documentation about you.
Here are some ideas for your notebook’s sections:
testimonial letters from clients, colleagues, Suits
congratulatory internal memos
copies of big checks or payments from clients
photos of you winning awards
Share everything that is impressive about you.
Don’t just say it.
This immediately separates you from your competition. Anybody can talk about all the wonderful things they claim to have achieved. Anybody can talk the talk; show that you walk the walk.
When do you play your hand?
At some point, every interview eventually gets to That Point.
You’re a top-tier sales rep. You can read the momentum and timing. You sense it.
When the time is right, show your book. Tell the interviewer you brought some supplemental material you thought they would be interested in seeing.
It’s like laying down your hands in a poker game. You wait patiently for everyone else to turn over their hands first. You show yours last because you’re the one holding a straight flush.
Your interviewer sees a lot more from you than from any other candidate. You get their attention. This act alone demonstrates the professionalism of a top-tier player. And they don’t forget you.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BOOK BEHIND
You will never see it again. Suits will confiscate your book and appropriate it to their own self interests. They can use it as a model to build their own book. Or they can keep it to job block you. Games People Play …
No matter what, hold onto your book. It’s the product of a lot of hard work.
You can leave a thumb drive of its contents if they really want to keep something to review. Or you can let them make copies while you’re there.
Again, never give up your book. Do not leave it behind to pick up later. It will disappear. I guarantee it.
Firing Lesson #6: Start Your Own Business
This might be exactly the right time for you to start your own business. That’s the case when I open my little direct mail company.
My nationwide company closes down. But we’re doing great in Dallas as a branch operation. I rename the company, keep my staff, meet with my providers and clients. I keep using the same service providers. Plus, we keep all our same clients. The very next month we open shop with my own new business.
Alternatively, a good steady-paying job selling for an innovative operation may be exactly what you need. I have history with that profile as well.
Three years after opening the new company Operation Desert Storm begins. Ad revenues tank. Simultaneously, postage rates double.
I’m forced to close down my little direct mail company. So I get a sales job. And make enough money to forget all about it.
Home Depot – founded by firing
In 1978 Bernard Marcus, CEO of Handy Dan hardware stores, is 49 years old. Arthur Blank is vice president of finance at age 36. Both get fired as part of an internal power struggle.
What do they do? They found Home Depot in Atlanta, Georgia. The end result: their current net worths, according to Forbes: Bernard Marcus, $3.3 Billion. Arthur Blank, $4 Billion.
What’s the FIRST THING to do if you get fired?
Crank it up in your car as you drive away and put that place in your rearview mirror.
The reason the play list is there is you—and it’s FREE! The songs are specifically selected to help reassure you about who you are as a Hired Gun sales rep. They’re available to help provide entertaining and uplifting support when you need it most. From your own kind – one Hired Gun to another.
Pump up the volume and redeem yourself!
“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
W. Clement Stone
Please SHARE with your colleagues and friends
NEXT WEEK’s Gonzo Selling!
Five reasons your CRM – SUCKS!
Coming Soon: HIRED GUN III
Robert Danger Workman writes from his consistent track record of top-tier success in both outside and inside sales at different companies, in different industries, as a sales rep, sales manager, EVP, entrepreneur and owner of several companies. Four decades of in-the-field, face-to-face selling and leading winning sales organizations provides the background and experience prevalent in his HIRED GUN brand such as the best-selling and award winning book, HIRED GUN – You’re #1 and Somebody Hates it, and the new, HIRED GUN II – The Essential Guide for Top Salespeople.