Time to lawyer up?

Help me out squad.


I'm sure this scenario or something similar is covered somewhere else on this site, and that's fine. I'm still going to write this up anyways in part because it's probably therapeutic and may keep from drinking 1,000 beers and chewing through an entire log tonight.


Just got pen to paper on the biggest deal I've ever signed and the biggest deal in my companies' history that put me well over my quota for the year. Based on our commission plan and OTE expectations I was rightfully owed a check well into the 6 figures, but told the company (verbally) I'd be willing to discuss taking a lesser cut in order to get skinnier on our eventual pricing and win this deal. Our VPs came back to me today with some literally nonsensical math that somehow shit my commission out at $62k...about 3x less than what I was expecting as a starting point. Sidenote: never was I actually asked in writing to take a commission cut nor were terms of that ever discussed. Obviously, I would not have consented to this insanity if it had been anyway.


I've already responded back that this isn't being done in good faith according to what we've got in writing, and that there's no chance I'm accepting that. I've reached out to some lawyers and have started the process because might as well lay the scenario out for them, but is that your play here? Go to the lawyers right away? Maybe a strongly worded letter from a power player in their area gets their attention? Seriously I don't know. I've got good relationships with the two VPs that I report to and I'm kind of in shock really. The offer is offensive.


Outside of trying to keep margin on this deal for themselves, I've gotta question the business decision here as well. We're an enterprise team of two and the other guy (who is my good buddy) is already a malcontent. He's definitely gone within 6-months, which leaves me. Why piss me off? I'd worked this deal for over a year. Team guy. Performing well. Say nothing changes, they win, and I get fucked with 62k. I'm obviously giving them the finger as soon as possible or stealing their money and doing nothing as long as possible, and now you're two enterprise guys down within a year, and getting flamed to every company within the space as well as targeted by your two guys that are now with better companies coming for accounts they signed a few years ago as contracts expire. What the fuck am I missing???

โ˜๏ธ Software Tech
๐Ÿ’ฐ Compensation
๐Ÿ˜ค Conflict Resolution
30
TennisandSales
Politicker
16
Enterprise Account Executive
dont go to the lawyer first. try to have a sit down adult meeting with leadership and you can explain how you are gettng to your commission number, and they explain how they are getting to yours.

hopefully something obvious will come to light that can be discussed. if they still seem like they are shafting you THEN go to the lawyer. just make sure to read the details of the comp plan/offer letter to make sure you are not missing something.
Coffee_is_for_closers
Opinionated
2
Product & Solutions Specialist
Solid advice. It is never a good idea to jump straight to the lawyer before meeting with the decision-makers. They might break your comp payment out over a few months to alleviate paying a large sum upfront.

We all know that upper management's communication skills are lacking. So maybe they didn't mean to say they are shafting you, but in their caveman garble, it came out that way.
TennisandSales
Politicker
1
Enterprise Account Executive
for sure! dont wanna waste your time or money!
antiASKHOLE
Arsonist
11
Account Executive
Huge congrats on the deal. I wouldn't make the lawyer a first choice, however once you do meet with the owner/boss, make sure you have a 3rd party there and document the entire thing.

If they still feel like they need to shaft you, then go the extreme route. chances are, they have done it to someone else too.
thedue
Valued Contributor
9
VP of Sales
Agree with @TennisandSales

Book time.

Set a very objective agenda in the invite.

Let them prepare a plan and response.

Encourage them to bring ideas on how to cover and close gaps, as this is the expectations, reference your contract.

Do not agree or empathize (market conditions, inflation etc), just state the facts.

Summarize in the objective, walking out of this time you want what?

1- Cover the shortfall, dollars, equity, something else
2- Contract the plan and agree on what it is and will be going forward
TheRealVladimirPutin
Opinionated
8
AE
If itโ€™s like most commission plans, thereโ€™ll be a clause in it saying it can be changed at management discretion without notice. Good luck with the lawyers though, I hope it works out. Start interviewing for other companies as well.
CuriousFox
WR Officer
5
Senior Account Executive
The lawyer will ask to see your plan and structure for this reason.
Sunbunny31
Politicker
2
Sr Sales Executive
The infamous "Big Deal Clause" - not called that, but almost always in the commission plan.
DungeonsNDemos
Big Shot
1
Rolling 20's all day
This is my least favorite clause..
therealmilsch
Fire Starter
0
VP Sales & Deal Flow
I was looking for this response before commenting. This is 100% the case. My old company had incredible commission plans but "is subject to change at the discretion of the VP at any time during the effective date of the plan." So, there's that.

Agree with every other comment at the top as well, don't lawyer up, sit down and have those conversations first. Show your conservative math and ask to see theirs.

Maybe over Zoom so the meeting can be recorded?

If they hit you with the "this is a special case" situation and "you're making more money here than you have in your career" then it's time to push back and then also get the resume out there. I think even with the subtle "big deal clause" you may have a leg to stand on from a legal standpoint. But you also just have to be ready to pay big $$$ against a company which can drag out a case.

F*CK shitty VPs and CEOs. This happened to me and one of my reps in the past, but I had golden handcuffs in the form of equity so I had to stomach the horseshit for 4 more years. But that culture was the ultimate reason I left after I vested 85% of my equity, I still left $350k equity on the table to GTFO of there.
detectivegibbles
Politicker
4
Regional Account Executive
First off, congrats on the big deal. Secondly, prefacing this that I've never been in this situation...

How did they get to the $62k figure? I'd get that in writing with your contract/comp plan and talk to lawyers that specialize in this space. Have them sign off on it being a high % of winning before proceeding...?

Unless truly unethical skid stains are running the company, I'd like to think there's a miscommunication.

Interested in hearing how it turns out! Best of luck!
UserNotFound
Politicker
4
Account Executive
Let us know what steps you take and how it turns out plz- this highlights something I think we all go through. I was in a compromised position when it happened to me (pregnant- a few weeks away from heading into an unpaid maternity leave when I was told my payment could be 50% lump sum or paid out annually over 3yrs) so I didnโ€™t do what I should have.
jefe
Arsonist
3
Head of Sales
This SUCKS, and I understand your instincts here.

That being said, lawyering up should NOT be your first move. Try and work it out, document everything.

And congrats on a major deal!
butwhy
Acclaimed Answer
2
Solutions Engineer
All of the advice here is great and I have nothing other than I am so sorry this happened - you are getting fucking hosed and I know how much that sucks and causes the cycle of anxiety and anger that just throws everything off. I hope your VPs see sense after your meeting with them going "WTF?!"
justatopproducer
Politicker
2
VP OF SALES -US
Sit down and discuss. The 62k maybe their starting figure to negotiate. Had this happen once before and was told
They would pay me out monthly and then never did and I worked an additional 6 months and never got the money. After all of that, then get a lawyer.
Kosta_Konfucius
Politicker
1
Sales Rep
Dude that is unbelievable!! I am so sorry that happened to you!

Hopefully they make it right
SoccerandSales
Opinionated
1
Account Executive
I would wait to get some sort of response from the team about it before lawyers OFFICIALLY get involved. That being said, probably good to start finding one now so if it does go downhill you are ready
Justatitle
Politicker
1
Mid Market AE
If you can avoid a lawyer that is going to be best, the reason I say that is lawyers are expensive and will cost money. If you can come to an amicable agreement that you believe to be fair then by all means go for it. They also know they are leaving themselves open to a legal nightmare and likely want to avoid a legal battle as well.
MoonDog349
Executive
1
Senior Account Executive
Even if your comp plan doesnโ€™t provide the company a loop hole to fuck you over, the legal fees will suck the life out of you. The company has more resources to fight a legal battle.

If you have a good relationship with the VPs, whatโ€™s stopping you from handing the dispute internally? It sounds like it went from 0-100 real quick. Find an amicable resolution, keep your job, close another big deal.
MoonDog349
Executive
1
Senior Account Executive
Plus, nowโ€™s not an ideal time to find a new job. More risk.
Sunbunny31
Politicker
1
Sr Sales Executive
Others have covered the bases below. This has gotten me as well. I had a claw back on a "big deal" commission that ended up cascading through my entire close % because of how the clause was initially enacted. I had closed 135% of quota and the company's reset on one key deal put me at 90% and well out of the accelerators I'd earned. In my case, my SVP jumped in and negotiated to a number that was not what was earned but was what I could live with. Do you have someone on your side who can help with the negotiations?
AnchorPoint
Politicker
1
Business Coach
Agree with below... set a meeting to gain clarity. Regardless, keep your head - stay professional. If is doesn't make sense, seek GOOD legal advice and act accordingly.
PineappleYa
Opinionated
0
AE
If you have a friend who is a lawyer Iโ€™de ask if they would help you pro bono or just at a lower fee than typical 30%
DungeonsNDemos
Big Shot
0
Rolling 20's all day
That is infuriating and I feel your pain my friend.
Have a conversation with you leadership first. I would not recommend firing out of the gate with saying you've contacted a lawyer.
If you have any sort of good relationship or trust with leadership, just layout how you've worked on this deal and the fact that for the last year the commission structure has not changed and this was understood you would be paid out on that structure.

If they give you bullshit, I'd walk out of the meeting and make it known that this is unacceptable (and then be ready to lawyer up).
HappyGilmore
Politicker
0
Account Executive
So sorry this is happening to you totally wrong to cut you out on commission. Similar to what others have said here, try to have a through and straight-forward discussion with leadership on a potential solution before getting lawyers involved.
TheIncarceration
Politicker
0
SDR Manager
Crossing my fingers that you can work this out internally! If lawyers get involved you'll inevitably have a ton of legal fees
havephonewillcall
Contributor
0
Director, Key Accounts
I've been in this exact position several times and have engaged lawyers on certain occasions. Keep in mind, the lawyers are for your benefit. It's probably a pretty dumb idea to threaten the person you're asking for money...

First, congrats on the deal! hopefully you are rewarded in more ways than one.

In my experience, it never hurts to have an employment attorney look over your contract / comp or commission plan to give you an objective opinion. This should only cost a few hundred dollars if anything.

Sadly, it's likely that the company holds all the cards and you'll have to negotiate (ask) them to pay up. In some cases i was able to point to the deal and get lucky, in others I had to make a firmer case. If the deal is slightly blurry from a comp perspective. talk to a lawyer friend or pay 500$ to speak with an employment attorney. It will be worth your while.
CRAG112
Good Citizen
0
Account Executive
That's a contract bro. Sounds like breach of contract. I think you are right to hit a lawyer up immediately. Ask them for counsel as to how you should proceed.

They know what they are doing on their end.
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