November 29, 2006

Some Thanksgiving

We've had a rough start to the holiday. Friday before Thanksgiving, Melissa's dad was let go from his job. Official stated reason was not meeting his sales quota, but the boss knew that he had a deal that he'd been working on for a year, and that deal was going to close by January. This was a huge sale: 100 "seats" of software plus training, nearly a MILLION in sales, which is Ron's ANNUAL quota.

The process was two-fold: First, get rid of Ron before the sale closes. That way, they don't have to pay him his 15% commission from what could be their largest single sale ever, and the bosses get to keep that for themselves. Second, once they have that money in hand, they bring in another associate from the Texas office to cover his position. Someone 20 years younger, who has been looking to re-locate to Atlanta.

No matter how many times I see this sort of thing, it never ceases to amaze me how low people will go for a lousy percentage. Ron was one of their best salesmen, even at age 62.

So we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner a week later, and nothing was said. It was just food. We were not thankful for the times that Ron had been screwed over by his employers. Two years ago, it was Lennox with their Age Discrimination policies. (Big surprise, another of his former co-workers at Lennox is getting the same sudden bad reviews from the executives, and he's nearly retirement age as well.) Now this.

Bad news from companies always comes around Christmas. Years earlier, Lennox made a habit of not renewing Ron's contract until January, and letting him sweat out December, not knowing if he'd have a job come the new year. After that, when Ron refused to take a transfer from Atlanta to Dallas, the company laid him off at the beginning of December. After a miserable, meager Christmas with an uncertain future, the company offered him the Dallas job again, but at significantly decreased salary.

This Thanksgiving ended up being just a large dinner, served a bit earlier than normal. The only holiday reminder was Matthew's construction paper Indian headband. There were still things to be thankful for; they could sell their stock and have enough to pay off the mortgage, and Ron could start taking Social Security benefits early (at a premium cost); but these thankful things were small comfort. Like the luck of being stabbed in the back near a hospital.

There is little solace to be found in the situation, but there is one thing: The client that Ron was about to close the deal with called. When he found that Ron was no longer working there, he called Ron's cell phone and asked what had happened. Ron told him just the facts, and the man said that he really didn't want to give his business to a company who treats their employees that way.

It was the same when Ron was let go from Lennox. Most of his clients refused to do business with Lennox again, after how they black-balled him. Ron is a great salesman, plain and simple. He's from the old school, that teaches that you develop a working relationship with clients and they come back to you for more business. That you need to spend time getting to know them and their needs before you make the first pitch to them. Today's executives just don't see that, they just look at the short-term gains.

Ron has an interview today with Carrier. He was recommended for the position by the salesman he was competing against, when he worked for Lennox. That says a lot right there. Wish him luck.

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