I don't care much for salespeople, but I hope the bloke somehow ends up with 3x what he was originally owed.
IBM needs to be beaten like a red-headed stepchild.Or maybe Ike Turner's wife.
IBM's practice of promising its sales reps commission rates it can lower at any time, particularly after a sale is finally inked, may soon face a jury. In November 2018, Jerome Beard, an IBM sales executive since 2002, sued his employer, claiming violations of California's labor laws, racial discrimination, and fraud, because …
I don't care much for salespeople
Originally I didn't either, but I have had the pleasure of working with some good ones (translated: they negotiated properly, didn't try to stiff the client and didn't promise something we had no hope in hell of delivering) and it reset my appreciation as well as my requirements for salespeople: it is a job for professionals.
That said, we do fairly specialised things. It appears that especially when it's about volume all those principles get thrown to the wind by default..
who are commission based.
Those who are salaried tend in my experience to want to get the right deal for both sides rather than the one that gets them the highest $$$$ in income.
In this case, IBM (like Oracle does even better) can't have their cake and eat it without giving their salesdroids what they promised in their employment contracts.
And it will be able to continue stiffing its salespeople that are not under contract, but are definitely under contract to respect California law.
Frankly, this is one case where, if I were judge, I would forbid a settlement. It it is a contract une law, then its terms are binding. That should be the goal of the judge, and allowing a company to settle just keeps those waters muddied.
That is not acceptable.
I don't care much for salespeople
I've experienced both kinds. The honest and decent who sell what they have to offer, won't dress it up, nor pretend they could or will deliver more than they can, will be completely open and transparent about everything. They are a credit to themselves, the companies they work for, and appreciated by the customers they sell to.
Then there's the lying scum.
And then there are those companies who are happy to have such lying scum working for them.
That was a fabulous book by a one Robert Townsend, 1970s or so.
I wish I ever had had a boss like him... Sigh.
Anyway, quoting from memory of something read 30+ years ago, "Should you cap sales commission? if you ever have a salesman who is making a fortune, the idiots from accounting (Simon would call those beancounters will try to convince you to reduce that guy's take-home percentage. Don't. If he's making a fortune on commissions, that means he's making several times that fortune for you, bubbele. Nothing will hurt morale among those making an effort for you as much as twisting the rules against your best performers"
Actually, knowing what I now about corporations and bosses, Up The Organization! should be in the fiction section of a library.
A few decades back I worked for a well known copier company, if a new client had more than three sites for installations under one contract the sale was considered to be under the national sales department, but they were supposed to pay you a percentage of the whole.
What they wiould do if you hooked a large multi site contract was to break it down into two site contracts or some other trick to make sure the best you would get was an envelope with a couple of Debenhams vouchers in it.
The beancounters would try to find a way to reduce commission on every sale anyway.
Shit company and shit job! I quit and got a degree in robotics instead.
I now work industrial service rather than IT. For a few months I was sat at the Spare Parts sales desk while I was on light duty status (recovering from an injury). When I was told that I had a budget to meet, my first thought was "How can that be? I have no control over how many parts a customer might need and no say regarding the prices". And my job didn't involve calling up customers and flogging parts; I was essentially just an order clerk.
Whatever. Not like I was going to make a career out of parts sales...
So about a month into that role, I get a Request For Quote from one of our biggest customers for a huge number of various widgets. I do the research, find the appropriate part numbers, pricing, shipping, etc.; and get the order. It took most of a week to get it all sorted, but blew away my budget for the month.
I proudly went to my temporary boss with the good news that I had exceeded my budget.
"That's not Spare Parts," quoth he. "That's Components".
"Huh? How can that be? I sold the same stuff last week (in much smaller quantities, to different customers), and it was Spare Parts then!"
"Once you exceed X number of dollars, the sale moves from the Spare Parts budget to the Components budget, regardless of what parts they are".
I asked "Well then, who's the Components salesperson? Next time this happens I'll let him spend *his* time on figuring this all out".
He just smiled and said, "Me. Thanks for helping out my bonus".
That's when I discovered that "bonus" is spelled "bone us" at that company!
I indeed cut my teeth on those three books, my teens, learning English by reading (I have a terrible and most peculiar pronunciation that no one can place - obvious, I made it up as I learned new words...)
A big plus when visiting my future mother-in-law for the first time was noticing she also had all these three books in her library, this was my kind of people!
Reading those books when way too young and innocent gave me a twisted view of the world. Things make sense, in those books (add to those the Whole Earth Catalog, I can quote Tongue Fu stories also without having seen them again the last 30 years). Neither was really clear about the Facts Of LIfe that I read about, over and over from fellow commentards. Sigh. Good memories. And early pint for y'all.
I was under one of those 'sales' contracts. Or rather it was a commission plan where you were paid a base salary that was a portion of your compensation. If you hit 100% of your target, you hit your salary. For every percentage point of your commission you hit over your plan you were paid 4X. So if you hit w 125% of your commission, you would double your salary. Commission paid out every qtr the following qtr.
And of course they added a note that they had the right to adjust your commission.
They are notorious for screwing w your commissions.
IBM seems to have a bit of their bean counter tricks coming back to bite them in the ass.
This and their 'restructuring' to fire their older workers.
Up to and including the Gerstner regime, IBM played fair with its employees, even when forced by circumstances to send some of them away. Since Gerstner left, not so much. The revenue numbers and the share price graph show the results.
As everywhere, the rot set in when Personnel was renamed Human Resources.
I hope Arvind Krishna understands this; otherwise the company is doomed.
Totally agree - was in the sales division of a blue chip tech co in the 90's/2000's, the overachieving sales guys regularly got stiffed for their expected bonuses after all the numbers had come in at year end.
Noticable that the further up the ladder you were, the less likely you were to get stiffed. You hardly ever see main board directors and upward in any big corp getting stiffed for their bonus - regardless of how badly they've screwed up the business.
I worked at IBM in the Gerstner years; it was a fabulous company. Even when it hit rock bottom in the early 90s, everybody (employees, managers and clients) wanted them to get back up on their feet.
Palmisano continued the journey to a pure bottom-line driven business, and Ginni rammed the final nails into the client service coffin.
In a previous job, office rumour was a salesman managed to shift an entire warehouse of obsolete kit for enough £millions to keep the company alive for a few years. When they decided not to pay the agreed commission the salesman walked and 'mysteriously' the sale got cancelled. The company didn't last long after that.
Pissing off people pulling you out of the mire is epic mismanagement.
IBM is shooting themselves in the foot and are too stupid to understand that.
Sales people, with the manufacturing, create every cent of the revenue company makes, while beancounters and HR *are nothing but expenses*. Worth zero. That's why they actively try to sabotage every other department in almost any company.
Mucking with sales people commissions (i.e. stealing them) means they leave and then you don't have sales people. IBM being IBM can sell something without them, but not much.
Also this 'non-contract contract' is blatant asshattery and a jury will not only say so, but punish IBM for that. Not only for this person but *everybody* with similar "contract".
"bankrupt if he loses"
Not necessarily. He may be on a no win, no fee deal with his lawyers. Given how IBM tends to win cases, that would normally tend to suggest it is unlikely, however, in this case, IBM have lawyered themselves in a bind: they are in trouble either way, so I'd say there's a good chance he (personally) has nothing to lose.
The 'No Win No Fee' is a two edged sword that has a sharper blade on one side that the other. Similar to the vein of this thread, just make sure you have a 'Signed Contract' with your 'No Win No Fee' lawyers 'Firm' as to what percentage they will take of your winnings. Chances are you will go shopping for a less greedy firm.
"IBM is shooting themselves in the foot and are too stupid to understand that."
They have probably calculated an acceptable level of collateral damage. Constantly shooting the either or both feet isn't an issue. They are gambling that most of the time they'll miss or just graze and it won't hurt too much.
If they end up settling out of court, they'll be enforcing NDAs and repeating the gamble again and again.
Somebody should file to have those NDAs declared unlawful. Something like that already happened here in the Netherlands with NDAs hospitals forced victims (or their heirs) of medical mistakes to sign. All those NDAs are now null and void and so the settlements are public knowledge as well as all mistakes and cover ups.
> His portion of the revenue, it's claimed, was about $12.6m, for which he was to receive about $1.4m. Instead, IBM decided the applicable commissionable revenue was only $2m, for which Beard was to receive about $230,000, roughly 15 per cent of the expected amount.
So the disagreement here is not about them trying to change the commission rates, it is about how much of the sale revenue is in scope for commission?
On “similar” deals. Without more details on all three details, who was involved, and how the revenue was assigned, it is hard to comment.
Note: I am not saying IBM are squeaky clean here, just that the dispute appears to hinge less on “varying the contract” and more on what revenue is in scope for the commission: IBM are not actually trying to change the percentage involved.
For example, if the commission is on hardware sales, and a large part of the deal is actually support or software, does it count as a hardware sale?
Anonymously due still living persons. One major engineering company I worked for in sales, tried this 'we have right to adjust commissions ploy'. I refused all commission and set a salary for them to meet or reject. They met it. Reason: clients orders were either low thousands of currency (majority of orders) and a few were big millions of currency. If a big order appearing to be in the future, most sales persons stopped serving the small order companies and drove rapidly to being an "I only attend to this big order culture". The small orders kept the company alive, not the few big bucks ones. After much argument with the 'accountants/personnel' department folk I presented my case to a director (who had been the senior commercial manager for a much larger company). He agreed, all sales folk became salaried with no commission or bonuses, except for stock we wanted to clear from warehouse, when commission was a fixed percentage of amount paid by customer, and sales person had authority to take order at any level above scrap value. Sales persons mostly worked in harmony with customers, even in a few cases refusing orders as our competitors had better technical solutions for the clients for some cases, that almost welded the buyers to our company. It was a good approach to keeping the company in business, with my edict "the ONLY job of sales persons is to keep other persons in work, both in our company and the client's company".
We used to have 'Technical Sales' salesmen; jobs might take years to come to fruition. So salesmen were salaried and we office-based technical guys supporting sales were happy to assist and visit customers, consultants, suppliers etc. to support the sale.
Change of management, new sales crew, commission-based, who were 'go-getting' but knew nothing about the product. We had hundreds of enquiries for products we didn't make and zero for the long-term, difficult (but high-margin) contracts. And a set of pissed-off designers who resented being asked to help out.
A 'them and us' situation where all lost out.
Masterstroke. I left.
This post has been deleted by its author
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021