I was alarmed when I received and email from a very valued print4pay hotel member. I just spoke with him tonight and I'm hoping I can him connected with another job in his area. I also had his permission to post this and he may or may not want to remain anonymous. But I think this is a great topic of discussion and to see if any of us can help him. Below is his email to me:

Well...

A couple months ago they brought in a new sales manager and started changing our pay structure. Goals went to a 30% monthly incline and if you don't hit goal you don't get commission. Also, in order to hit goal you have to average 100 calls per day with an average talk time of 250 minutes per day and enter a minimum of 4 new business opportunities per day. If we miss any of these points we don't get paid.

On top of that the CEO has a very disrespectful and degrading management style to the point where he pretty much bullies the employees every day. He required that we call the office before and after every stop in the field and would call and email during meetings just to check up. He recently called the client's office because I wasn't answering. He had tracking devices on the work vans, which was fine, it let him know where we were but if I'm with a client I can't take calls for no reason.

Last week we had a total of 7 sales reps. He let 3 go early last week as well as the only accounting employee and 1 of the 3 customer service reps. Tuesday they called me out of the field to fire me along with 1 other sales person.

They now have 0 accounting employees, 2 customer service reps, 2 service techs and 2 sales reps that have only been in the industry for 4 months.

So...as hard as I work at hitting these sales goals I was let go with no notice, explanation or severance pay. They only thing I'm left with is a 4 page non-compete and bills to pay.

I've sent the non-compete to two different attorneys and they say it's solid. Since I saw this coming a head of time I tried to get a sales position with a local company, they really wanted me to work for them, but then had to turn it down once they read the non-compete.

As far as future plans, I sent a resume to Ricoh direct yesterday and didn't mention the non compete. We'll see how that goes...

I have a phone interview this morning with one of my clients, they're a large credit card processing company. Since I'm going to school for a degree in network security I figured this could be a good option to get the experience since security is a major concern in the credit card processing industry.

I'm not sure where I'll end up but it seems like I've been kicked out of the industry with no explanation at all.
Original Post
Here are my thoughts on it, for what it's worth...

Judges out there have shown an incredible bias towards the employee when it comes to enforcement of non-competes. Basically, regardless of what you signed, they have shown across the continent that they will not allow an overly prohibitive non-compete to prevent a man (or woman) from earning a living. Basically, if haven't stolen any of their information and you're ready to accept that it wouldn't be fair, regardless of circumstances, for you to pursue their existing customer base then you're good to go do whatever you want.

Push come to shove you would find in the process that a judge would consider whether or not your actions were actually having a negative effect on your former employer. If you like the industry, go get a job a few miles up the road and steer clear of your former employers customer base. It'd cost him/her a small fortune to sue you and if you're not actually harming their business in any demonstrable way they'd just be throwing good money away. Remember they can't sue you just for fun, you have to have damaged them in some way that warrants their pursuit of restoration. With no financial motivation to pursue you, and with no pain felt because you'll be staying out of their accounts (...right?) you'll probably never hear from them again as it sounds like this guy is going to have his hands full babysitting newbies and putting out fires.

I'm no lawyer, but I've been around the block...

Or maybe this is a chance for you to break off into a complimentary field, there are lots of cool things going on in the tech world that revolve around what you are good at: selling monthly payments. Managed Print Services, Managed Business Services, Managed I.T. services, Managed Mobile Services, etc. Go shake the hands of your regional I.T. heavyweights and see what's on their minds you may be surprised.

Be well, keep us in the loop.
I know it is difficult to see it yet, but your employer has done you a big favor. Existence in that environment would have been miserable.

I agree with much of what Mr. Shaw says. A previous employer who initiated your termination will not be allowed to restrict your ability to earn a living in your chosen field. If you had left him, a non-compete becomes more difficult to beat. However, in your case, even if you had quit, you would have grounds based on the change in payplan, especially if you could demonstrate that it resulted in a significant decrease in pay. To some degree, the non-compete is associated with the job you accepted when you signed it. That job appears to have changed. I've got to believe that the attorney's you talked to just didn't want to be the ones to work the case.

All that having been said, I'm not surprised that potential employers don't want to mess with it. If your previous employer was a Ricoh Dealer, you will have a tough time getting on with Ricoh Direct. You are not worth the risk of potential fall-out. A Ricoh Dealer is more important to Ricoh than any sales rep.

I disagree with Mr. Shaw when he said that your previous employer won't spend the money to litigate this. Even if he doesn't think he can win, he knows he doesn't have to. He just needs to outlast you. And he may need to send the message to the others he let go as well.

Like Mr. Shaw, I am not an attorney but have been in the industry a long time...30+ years. Never have I seen a non-compete litigated in favor of the employer as long as records aren't stolen and customers aren't targeted.
You old employer will not be able to completely stop you from making a living in your field. In fact the more restrictive the non compete is the less likely a Judge will be inclined to honor it.

Can you post the non compete agreement (just sanitize the names on it). I have heard of a Judge who allowed the ex employer to pick a very limited area (NOT New England, but maybe Boston proper) this leaves many other territories available for a Sales Rep to work. Or another Judge told the ex employer to pick certain accounts that they wanted the rep to stay out of. The Judge cautioned the ex employer NOT to give him too large of a list.
I would get a second legal opinion from a lawyer who specializes in employment issues or contract law.

You could consider writing a letter to your ex employer stating that you intend to honor the spirit of the non-compete and you will not actively pursue any of their customer base. But you do intend to work in the industry in an area where you have not predominately sold before. Do not tell them the name of a specific dealer. Ask them if they will agree to this plan. If they don't their unreasonable enforcement of the non compete will way heavily in your favor in court.

One Judge told an ex employer that they could continue to pay their ex employee NOT to work if they truly didn't want him to work in his industry. The ex employer became very reasonable after that.

Finally, have you spoken to the labor board of your state? If your ex employer dose not agree to your reasonable request file a complaint with your labor board. I am not sure that they will get involved in the non compete but you could file a complaint that you were unfairly terminated. Possibly even have the other reps join in, or jointly hire a lawyer. I assume that they are all in the same boat.

It is possible that the fact the compensation you were promised when you signed the non compete changed you may have some grounds there. But even if that doesn't turn out to be so, your ex employer can NOT completely stop you from making a living in your field. A judge won't allow it.

I wish you well!

Vince
First: Your old employer is imploding. You don't ditch that many people all at once if things are going good or even so-so.

Second: Non Competes are hard to enforce whereas Non disclosure/confidentiality agreements generally are not. (Non Attorney opinion, No I won't pay your legal fee's)

Third: Did you re sign your non compete after the pay scale change? Is the pay change in writing, did you have to sign the pay change and do you have a copy? Did they give you anything in return for re signing the "non compete" after the pay change? (Raise, bonus, time off, toaster). Note: These are the questions "your" attorney should be asking nothing is rock solid heck OJ got off the first time.

Fourth: You will get a nasty gram if you take a job at a competitor. If not from an Law office , Take it for what its worth. (Another opinion not a suggestion "which is noyhing")

If you had any success in this business you should be able to find a job in about 30 seconds.

Is your old employer a small local business or larger direct operation with a local branch?

GPS on a work van? Are you in sales or service? Two techs what do you guys have, like 400 accounts total? You are obviously new, How new are you to the industry?

What are the other sales people doing?

Are you collecting unemployment or did they challenge it based on non performance.

If they have only 2 service techs I doubt the "CEO" can afford to chase you around let alone an attorney. (Another non professional free opinion) Take it for what is worth.

Good Selling,
Last edited by Yoda
I re read this and if Art hadn't have posted this I would have ripped it to shreds. So here is my new and improved toned down sophisticated paragraph by paragraph interpretation of this.

quote:
Originally posted by Art Post:
A couple months ago they brought in a new sales manager and started changing our pay structure. Goals went to a 30% monthly incline and if you don't hit goal you don't get commission. Also, in order to hit goal you have to average 100 calls per day with an average talk time of 250 minutes per day and enter a minimum of 4 new business opportunities per day. If we miss any of these points we don't get paid.


That is how it works. New Sales Managers increase activity requirements when there in't enough. So your on the phone 4 hours a day. So don't miss the goals. Tip recommend the sales manager stay with you after hours until maybe 9 or 10 pm 3 times per week to coach you and help you get better, in an email with owner CC'ed.

quote:
On top of that the CEO has a very disrespectful and degrading management style to the point where he pretty much bullies the employees every day. He required that we call the office before and after every stop in the field and would call and email during meetings just to check up.


Bullies because he checks your work? Its called "inspect what you expect". Well seems like no one has anything in the pipe line and don't like to make calls.

quote:
He recently called the client's office because I wasn't answering. He had tracking devices on the work vans, which was fine, it let him know where we were but if I'm with a client I can't take calls for no reason.


Well maybe you should have answered? Or text-ed back or something Still don't understand this "work van" thing.

quote:
So...as hard as I work at hitting these sales goals I was let go with no notice, explanation or severance pay. They only thing I'm left with is a 4 page non-compete and bills to pay.


You have an explanation: you didn't hit the required activity and sales goals. Duh. As in the famous movie "Happy Gilmore" " If I don't get play I'll lose Grandma's house " Response "Hoopty Doo, now get out" The only thing you have a point about is those silly Non compete's. An executive from HP can go to Xerox or vice a versa but a DTS Sales rep thinks he can't get another job.

Did you hit the goals or just try real hard? Do you think they where unreasonable? Now listen cause this will blow your mind: Maybe just maybe the CEO/Sales Manager (or whatever he is), wanted everyone to quit but some of you didn't get the message when he increased calls and quota.

quote:
I have a phone interview this morning with one of my clients, they're a large credit card processing company. Since I'm going to school for a degree in network security


WTH why Network Security? Night school/day school/ online school? Why not Business administration? or perhaps some online sales courses, I'm still not sure you were in sales.

quote:
I'm not sure where I'll end up but it seems like I've been kicked out of the industry with no explanation at all.


Sorry, but this business is harsh. Were you at or above quota for sales and activity? If not well time to move along. Just to clarify I think 100 calls per day every day is harsh but what throws me is the only 4 business opportunities? Heck you should get 50 that qualify as an opportunity if not more, just depends on when.

You sound sad, now pick yourself up get a job, Send him real nice letter thanking him for the opportunity he gave you and that you hope he does real well. Then kick your previous employers arse every chance you get.

My unfortunate $0.02 worth take it for what you paid.

Good Selling, Peace out, Have a nice day;
Vince is right on with this. Non-competes are enforcable, but have to be reasonable in the scope that they cover. However, it costs money to fight them. You should ask the employer to release you from your non compete. That would be the best and least expensive way to go about it.
quote:
Now listen cause this will blow your mind: Maybe just maybe the CEO/Sales Manager (or whatever he is), wanted everyone to quit but some of you didn't get the message when he increased calls and quota.


I believe this was the case, just from our few phone conversations. I thing I can tell you is that the salesperson is a hardworker.

from Yoda "Just to clarify I think 100 calls per day every day is harsh but what throws me is the only 4 business opportunities? Heck you should get 50 that qualify as an opportunity if not more, just depends on when".

Personally I made over 50 calls today,15 emails to prospects, returned 4 calls, set 3 appointments, however zero opportunities. I believe an opportunity only starts when you've been able to develop and deliver the quote/proposal or schedule a call back close.


Art
quote:
Originally posted by Art Post:
quote:
Now listen cause this will blow your mind: Maybe just maybe the CEO/Sales Manager (or whatever he is), wanted everyone to quit but some of you didn't get the message when he increased calls and quota.


I believe this was the case, just from our few phone conversations. I thing I can tell you is that the salesperson is a hardworker.

from Yoda "Just to clarify I think 100 calls per day every day is harsh but what throws me is the only 4 business opportunities? Heck you should get 50 that qualify as an opportunity if not more, just depends on when".

Personally I made over 50 calls today,15 emails to prospects, returned 4 calls, set 3 appointments, however zero opportunities. I believe an opportunity only starts when you've been able to develop and deliver the quote/proposal or schedule a call back close.


Art


Are there really markets where there are so many unknown potential clients (after all these years of CRM's that is;DM, Lease end date , local decisions, make, model, volume, notes) that making random calls from a list would really achieve results? If I were to start another copier company (which I won't) I would spend a large percentage of my initial investment in information. I've said it before I'll say it again : ALL Businesses (with local decision making) are prospects its just a matter of who to talk to and when and size of deal.
yoda

in my case, I came from a failing dealership and at the end many customers were lost due to the poor financial condition of the company. The company was run like it was still in the eighties, no real CRM, no marketing, no real lease database except for what I kept personally. The last three years at least for me have been spent building the territory back to where it was. Our new company did not invest in any new database although I wish they had. I try to specialize in the wide format systems, just because it generate more dollars, they tend to drive more paper.

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