Posts Tagged ‘gary veselka’

Now there comes a point in time in every agents life, when a New Sales VP at your favorite Service Provider comes in and takes over your old Sales VP’s job. That’s a pivotal point in time in every sales agents life. The new guy is going to really want to kick the old guys ass. Make a big splash, improve some numbers quickly and leave no remnant of the last guys program.

Robert Duller’s power point flashed on the screen and you could hear the glasses in the room being placed back down on the banquet room cocktail tables. Eyes swung forward to the screen.

What typically happens now is the description of why the old plan or old contract was bad…and why a new contract needs to be created. In this instance, we’d received an ominous email about a month ago, quoting an obscure lawsuit filing that required a plan change so that they could be in  “compliance” going forward. At the time, we didn’t think much about it because the lawsuit was brought over price fixing on equipment, and well, we were in the services business.

“The old plan and the commission levels that were in it are too high and are therefore unsustainable going forward.”

Stake into our hearts. Our balance sheets.

“Now we want to let you guys know just how valuable that you are to us. So we’re going to take some time here and go over what will be required for the new plan going forward.”

Silence in the room. “Um..we already have a portfolio of clients here, did he just say, What will be required?

Unfortunately, yes. What ensued over the next 90 minutes was a complete dismantling of the old plan as we knew it.

Our commission payout percentages, client upgrades and getting paid on contract renewals. All gone in the first few slides. We had a multi million dollar portfolio of clients that we’d built over the past 4 years that didn’t seem to mean anything.  Commission percentages alone were dropping 75%. We had to qualify with hitting a number of deals as well as higher revenue commitments. We were stunned…

We also had a contract that had about 12 more months in it.

Now Robert was not the most popular guy in the room – or for many months after, but this happens all the time in Sales organizations. The new gal comes in and takes a look at commission checks that are going out to the partners and sees a great opportunity to take back some revenue. Its to be expected in some parts of the sales universe.

All the more reason to have a very good contract and one that you invest in having an attorney review and modify so that your business interests are protected. That means commissions, renewals and upgrades need to be protected in your contract if you are a sales agent. Paying someone $1500.00 to $2000.00 now to review your contracts and make changes and suggestions can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road. Keep in mind that sales leaders will change, the person you sign your contract with will move on to another position, your service provider will more than likely have in house counsel and if things get dicey down the road, you will be paying your attorney by the hour if there’s a dispute. They will not.  Invest up front.

There have been many more  trips to Texas since then  to work on our new relationship. It’s a work in progress!

This was probably the eighth or ninth time we’d flown back to Texas over the past 5 years to see these guys. This time, it was to meet with the New VP of Channel Sales who had some “exciting announcements” for all of the companies who were in their current partner program.

My business partner and I eyed one another over the rental car.

“What do you think the big announcements going to be?

“Well let’s see…I bet its going to be a new commission program, more resources…and maybe a year end contest for all of us!

“I’ll add a new portal to that list. They haven’t had one of those…to make us more efficient of course.”

“How could I have forgotten the portal?  Perhaps a new area manager as well for us, to meet with us more regularly and make us more efficient.”

We laughed over the repeated list, turned on the air conditioner in our rented Chevy and pointed our car down the I-35.

We actually like this company quite a bit because we had so many of the same great values. For example,

Procreation! They had a great product offering, and we had many clients. Together we had made many happy clients. Great Communication! Sure, we’ve fought over commissions, but we always manage to email or call about them, resolve them and then make up.

Finances! They didn’t have to pay a sales representative a salary or spend one marketing dollar for us to bring them a good, qualified highly closeable opportunity. We got a great commission percentage in exchange.

Open, honest dialog: We flew back to take product trainings on our dime and were able to bring real client feedback that they adjusted to.

Support – We had the same account manager for over three years. He was making his numbers and we were doing well together, we were efficient in bringing  and installing clients together. Everyone was doing well.  We were in a good period of time together, way past dating, and maybe four years into the partnership.

As we checked in to the hotel, we walked in with Frank from Solutionet. Frank beat us out last year for the number one partner, and we really wanted that title back. Aaron, the number three partner from DriveDebt was also there in the lobby. A good friendly competition between the three companies was in play and we all smiled and laughed at one another in greeting. “Wonder who’s gonna get numero uno this year??!! Frank was all about the joint marketing opportunities that he was able to create with these guys and Aaron was all about being able to access and utilize the partner ecosystem. It was a healthy business enablement program for everyone.

We milled into the banquet room with our drinks and watched the AV screen roll down from the ceiling. New guy in slacks and a button down strolled up to the dias. “Welcome everyone, I’m Richard Duller and I’m going to walk you through the new program. By now, you’ve already been made aware that we’re changing the program with the email that you received inviting you to the conference. Essentially, the past program was unsustainable.”

Collective “Uh-oh!

“We’re going to walk you through what the new program is going to look like going forward.”

Something told us all to buckle in, changes were ahead…

Stay tuned for part-2 of this post…

“I need to get your thoughts on what I’m thinking of doing!”

It was my long time colleague Gary on the phone. We’d worked together at Qwest for four years in the shoot ’em out years of early 2000. Gary ran the sales and operations team that supported the direct sales teams for the Global Account organization for the West. We sold it… and he installed it.

“Sure, whats up?? “I’m thinking of taking a job as a Director of Sales over in the Agent channel.”

Now back in the day..announcing a career move like this would be like Sara Palin suddenly choosing to become a democrat.


“Before you think I’ve gone completely nuts, hear me out. I’ve been in this position for five years so far, done really well and don’t get me wrong, but I am so tired of babysitting entitled sales reps! I already have 3 kids under the age of 12 at home and these guys are so undisciplined about just the basics that its completely infuriating day in and day out. I’m over it – and I really like the company because we’ve got a great product. Slogging it out this way every day trying to get sales people to really work hard for the numbers truly sucks though.”

I started to laugh in commiseration … “Don’t laugh…can you tell me why you did it so long ago?

Well..the truth is that I had been sitting on General Manager calls every week for months listening to the sales numbers that were being posted .. and the alternate sales channel teams outsold the direct sales teams four to one, week in and week out. The CEO of the company loved it because the alternate sales channel was much more profitable – no base salaries to pay or headcount turnover.   My own direct sales organizations numbers were anemic and I could empathize with Gary’s frustration. Years ago, I had also grown weary of chasing my sales team with EKG paddles.

“Gary, I think it’s a smart move and I’ll tell you why…”

  1. Independent sales agents are highly motivated to make things happen because there’s no salary check auto-magically coming in the mailbox for them from corporate every two weeks. Agents have to own their own destiny without the safety net of a base salary.
  2. They have to hunt clients, treat their clients like they are family, absolutely find the best solution for them, sell it, install it and then take care of it long term by themselves.  That bakes in responsibility if that agent wants to survive long term. What I’ve found is that they are aggressive, they hunt for their own relationships and they are very entrepreneurial in actually helping their clients.
  3. They also take responsibility for producing their own results. Its refreshing…and quite a big behavior change. These guys truly own their own business and take a lot of pride in producing autonomy for themselves and a livelihood for their families. Its like walking out into the sunshine after you’ve been chained to a wall as far as I’m concerned. You’re also going to be the Director who brings in pure profit, and not a headcount and resource drain for the CEO.

More and more companies are moving in the direction of cultivating and growing an alternate sales channel. They get the benefit of a highly motivated sales team that they don’t have to pay a salary to and access to business that they would have been competing for…  Its good business for everyone and helps to keep the business climate healthy.

“Gary, I think it’s a great move and that you’ll truly enjoy it”.