How to fire your broker

It’s never an ideal situation, but sometimes things just don’t work out between you and your broker. What’s the best way to end the relationship without stirring up bad blood? Natural products consultant Bob Burke offers these tips for gracefully firing your broker.

Bob Burke

July 16, 2013

1 Min Read
How to fire your broker

Begin with probation. If objectives aren’t being met, the job is not getting done, or if your broker is not being responsive, you need to be clear about where you see their performance versus your objectives. It is usually better to correct the problem than “off with their heads” at the first sign of trouble. There is a learning curve, lost time, lost sales and extra expense in getting a new broker up to speed—and your options in a given market may be limited.

You need to clearly state objectives that need to be accomplished and problems that need to be fixed within a time frame:

  • Be frank and concise in explaining the situation.

  • Put it in writing. CC key people at brokerage.

  • Follow up to see if the problems have been fixed.

  • If you suspect that it is unlikely they will come around, discretely begin to interview for a replacement.


Our preference is to call the broker—account manager and president—and inform them that you are terminating them. Review the notice period, wish them well (it’s a small world) and follow up in writing. There is a lot of consolidation going on within the natural industry, and this consolidation often means sales managers lose their jobs. It is in your best interest that you act professionally in the exit process so as to “not burn any (future) bridges.”


This content is excerpted from the Natural Products Field Manual, Sixth Edition, The Sales Manager’s Handbook, written by Bob Burke and Rich McKelvey. To learn more about or purchase the Natural Products Field Manual, visit the Natural Products Consulting Institute website.


About the Author(s)

Bob Burke

As a consultant since 1998, Bob Burke provides assistance in bringing natural, organic and specialty products to market across most classes of trade. This includes work in strategic planning, growth strategies, writing sales, marketing and business plans, budgeting, pricing, building distribution, broker selection and management, organizational development, strategic options, financing, branding, trade spending management and assistance around M&A, due diligence and venture strategy groups. He is also the co-author and co-publisher of the Natural Products Field Manual, Sixth Edition, The Sales Manager’s Handbook and Staking Out Space on the Supermarket Shelf. Prior to consulting, Bob was with Stonyfield Farm Yogurt for 11 years as Vice President, Sales & Corporate Development and Vice President, Marketing & Sales. He has held marketing positions with Colombo, Inc. and Sperry Top-Sider. He received an MBA from Babson College.

Bob has worked with numerous companies, including Annie’s Homegrown, Oregon Chai, Snyder’s of Hanover, UNFI, No Pudge!, Kraft Foods, Bayer Consumer Care Division, ConAgra, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Kettle Cuisine, Small Planet Foods, New Hope Natural Media, Bushes Beans, Equal Exchange, Nantucket Offshore/Stirrings, Immaculate Baking, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Dancing Deer Bakery, The Natural Dentist, Rice Select, EcoFish, PMO Wildwood, S.C. Johnson, Blake’s All Natural Foods, Megafood/BioSan, Mighty Leaf Tea, Lesser Evil Snack Co., Theo Chocolate, The Jane Goodall Institute, Kashi, Project 7, Vermont Butter and Cheese, Yoghund, Bord Bia, American Halal, Orgain, Turtle Island, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bausch + Lomb, Boehringer Ingleheim, Harbar LLC, Rhino Foods, Popcorn Indiana, Stonehouse 27, The ProBar, Hail Merry, Mamma Chia, 479 Popcorn, Heel USA, Nature’s Path, Pfizer, Cape Cod Provisions, E&A Industries, Sopexa USA, Mavea LLC, Via Sana, Skyland Foods, Ignite Sales, Dave’s Gourmet and others.

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