Don't worry; we'll stall them.



  • I'm the lead developer for a particular product at this company, and I'm the only one who is capable of making any significant change to it (not because I'm any more skilled than other developers, just because it was poorly designed given time constraints with no spec, is very complex, and uses a bizarre undocumented third-party API alongside an awful third-party library which handles XML communications in a "creative" way).  I'm also responsible for installations, configurations, customizations, bug fixes, system discovery, cost details, support, and customer service (training) for all clients who use it.

    Had this conversation with our lead sales rep:


    Me:  So I saw that press release you issued this morning; it says the new international version of my product is now available.

    Rep:  Yeah, we keep getting a lot of requests for it, so we decided to release a new version that works for companies not based in the U.S.A.  I should be making a lot off of those commissions pretty quick; you did a really great job on that US version.

    Me:  Uh... you do know that we don't actually have an international version yet?  And that I haven't even submitted an internal development estimate for the international version, that I am supporting the current version, supporting most all of our other software products, am doing cost details and discovery for half a dozen potential clients, now have the role of sales engineer and am making custom demo instances for sales reps, have recently been put in charge of build management and internal development & testing/deployment policy, am now being required to take training and seminars to "grow my skill base" (so I can be given even more responsibilities) necessitating me taking several days off at a time for training, that we've been looking for new programmers to hire for two months now and not a single applicant could actually program, and am the project lead on a major project which you negotiated which has the payment being contingent upon on-target delivery for applications that are already three weeks behind schedule with a nervous client whose entire company depends on us getting the new systems launched on a precise date so she doesn't miss her contractual obligations with her clients?  Don't you think that's going to be a problem when someone actually buys this and we can't delivery anything?  takes breath

    Rep:  Don't worry about any of that; I'll just make up some BS about system discovery services, charge them extra to get them to pay for the development without them knowing, and stall them for a couple weeks while you crank out the new version real quick.  I also need you to spec out some new multi-company additions for it, and we have a major deal in the works for a couple hundred grand and I need to you be the point-person on that doing the systems discovery.  Make sure all that discovery time is billable, so I can get it in my commission report before the end of the month.

    Me: dies a little inside 


    I suppose I shouldn't have expected any differently considering the original version of the application was actively being sold to customers even though I stressed repeatedly and vehemently that what I had produced in the couple weeks I was given the first time was just a very  rough, basic, proof of concept and should not actually be used in production because it would be an unmaintainable mess.  I've spent the past year cleaning up the fallout from that and praying that they'll let me reprogram it all from scratch in a way that will make them no longer fully dependent on me for all non-trivial changes, among other things.

    It's on the calendar, but keeps getting pushed out in favor of support for the old version, since it's now one of our best selling products, if not the best the selling in terms of adoption rate over time since release.  Granted, I'm salaried here, so a product I create selling very well is the opposite of what I want, nor am I at all incentivized to that end, and whatever ego boost that might otherwise give me, the unpaid overtime for support and everything else that goes along with each sale more than negates it.

    But at least the sales reps love me...



  • When it comes time to do this particular work, make absolutely sure it's late, and in the middle of something else that's higher priority; let the sales rep squirm. Then make sure that most of the work does not fall in the commission-generating category.

    That will slow down this sort of idiocy.



  • Sounds like you need to stop working overtime.



  • @Tacroy said:

    Sounds like you need to stop working overtime.
    At one of my previous jobs, I was paid hourly.  It didn't take them long to make me salaried when they realized that my job required me to work 60 hour weeks and that they were losing around fifteen or so thousand dollars a year in overtime. I took the pay cut there in exchange for me no longer having to keep track of my hours, not needing to take breaks or lunches anymore (which are legally required for hourly employees where I work, but I prefer to just work the whole day through and was constantly getting written up for it), etc.  But, at this place, I still have to track my time in detail since we bill clients.  So I get no benefit like that here; at least I don't have to take breaks or lunch.  But I don't even get dental.

    @snoofle said:

    When it comes time to do this particular work, make absolutely sure it's late, and in the middle of something else that's higher priority; let the sales rep squirm. Then make sure that most of the work does not fall in the commission-generating category.

    That will slow down this sort of idiocy.

    Yeah; an issue here is that once a client gives us their money, they immediately become priority #2 to clients we are trying to sell stuff to - it's an unspoken company policy.  A $50K potential deal is a higher priority than the $100K deal we've already been paid for.  And when we strongly believe a project will be a failure, we just ask for, say, an inflated 25% up-front and expect to never be paid the rest and for the project to be cancelled.  Further, I have in my job description to make sure X% of my time is spent on billable hours each week.  So there is a floor there I can't go below - since product support makes up a huge part of my job, and support is not billable (excepting in some rare circumstances), that really limits my options.

    Likewise, clients who complain the loudest get more attention from sales and management than the really good clients who are great to work with.  Clients who refuse to pay their bills get quick and excellent service (or quick and shitty, depending on how much they curse at my boss), while the ones who always pay on time and without dispute get put on the back burner.  I even have some guy whose issue I've been putting off for over three months now just because he is so nice and I need to deal with the clients who are asking for refunds first, even though I'd much prefer to help this guy out.  I don't get commissions for when I do a good job programming something, but you can bet that I'll be penalized at review time if customers start returning products (even those I didn't  program).

    I can really understand why they say executives tend to be sociopaths.  They are incentivized in every way to either warp or abandon their ethics, or encourage people who have none.  And, honestly, after you deal with your 5,000th client who calls you incompetent, stupid, claims you don't know what you're doing, makes insane demands, berates you at every chance, ignores your advice, blames you for all their problems, and so on, it's kind of hard to not start actively hating clients before you even talk to them and treating them as de facto enemies whose lives you want to make miserable.  I never used to understand some people's attitude or behavior like this until I started doing customer service.  I also used to find Dilbert funny.  Now it makes me want to cry.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @KrakenLover said:

    we can't delivery anything
    Ow. Please don't verb your nouns; the language needs no more weirds.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @KrakenLover said:

    I also used to find Dilbert funny.  Now it makes me want to cry.
    Dilbert is a documentary, with the names changed and occasional gags.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    Yeah; an issue here is that once a client gives us their money, they
    immediately become priority #2 to clients we are trying to sell stuff to

    • it's an unspoken company policy.  A $50K potential deal is a higher
      priority than the $100K deal we've already been paid for.

    Do you really think this behavior is unusual? After all, sales people usually don't get commissions from existing clients. Not saying it's right, mind you; just that it's SOP pretty much everywhere. 

    Hell, I've had to implement large feature sets under unreasonable deadlines for potential customers, never mind existing ones.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    I'm the lead developer for a particular product at this company, and I'm the only one who is capable of making any significant change to it
     

    So wait till they sold some of this new, non-existent version and then demand a massive raise...if denied just leave.

     



  • Hang the motherfucker out to dry. He's betting that you'll do whatever it takes to build the thing he promised ASAP. He's betting that you won't realise that you're in control of the situation. You've done nothing wrong, he's promised something unreasonable without consultation. This is a calculated maneuver on his part to maximize utility for himself at the expense of both the client and you, and it all hinges on you being too socially passive to speak up.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    Rep:  Don't worry about any of that; I'll just make up some BS about system discovery services, charge them extra to get them to pay for the development without them knowing, and stall them for a couple weeks while you crank out the new version real quick.  I also need you to spec out some new multi-company additions for it, and we have a major deal in the works for a couple hundred grand and I need to you be the point-person on that doing the systems discovery.  Make sure all that discovery time is billable, so I can get it in my commission report before the end of the month.

    Me: Fuck you, I quit.


    FTFY


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @GNU Pepper said:

    Hang the motherfucker out to dry.
    A good one would be to say that you have to take a month or two off with a stress-related illness induced by the salesman trying to pressure you into impossible deliverables. Then, when you return just focus on the other tasks you mentioned and stick to a strict no-more-than-40-hours work week.

    Or, if you think that will outright cost you a job and you can't stomach it, just tell the guy “Impossible. Won't happen.” and leave it at that. But don't negotiate.



  • 100% agree with the last three posts. This is when you stop playing developer, and start playing politician. Figure out your leverage, and fucking lever that shit.

    Come out of this with: 1) A raise, 2) Another employee to take on workload, 3) A better job. Or some combination of the three.

    If you don't I will point and laugh at you.



  • Sounds to me like it's time to go independent. Resign, then offer your services back to this company as a contractor. Can't go wrong -- there is apparently a huge need for your services, and a dearth of people who can replace you. You'd bill hourly, so you can actually get paid for all that unpaid overtime. And, in my experience, companies who are paying consultants by the hour suddenly discover ways to get you to work on just the really important things -- no more customer support, hopefully. AND, you can quit any time you want.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    Rep:  Yeah, we keep getting a lot of requests for it, so we decided to release a new version that works for companies not based in the U.S.A.  I should be making a lot off of those commissions pretty quick; you did a really great job on that US version.
     

    Erm.. they're making commission on selling vapourware? Isn't there a law against that?

    It sounds like the slimey weasel salesdroid's actually being upfront dishonest.

    @KrakenLover said:

    Rep:  Don't worry about any of that; I'll just make up some BS about system discovery services

    "so you're actively lying to our customers? How do you think they'll feel when you're found out? How will the company's reputation suffer?@KrakenLover said:

    But at least the sales reps love me...

    .. until you fail to deliver to their unrealistic committed deadlines.

     



  • At my current company, this sort of shit got fixed by making sales commissions only payable after software was delivered and signed off on by the customer. Sales reps selling vaporware quit when their income (deservedly) dropped to the poverty level. Internal politics dropped of considerably.



  • In a situation like that, I would talk to the higher-ups (definition left intentionally vague, as the details vary from company to company) and explain that the salesman is abusing a harmful conflict of interest by using his position as a representative of the company to make deals that enrich himself while at the same time bringing financial liability upon the company.  Execs may not care about "sales guy is being mean to me," but "sales guy is screwing our bottom line over" will make them sit up and pay attention.



  • @KrakenLover said:

    Rep:  Don't worry about any of that; I'll just make up some BS about system discovery services, charge them extra to get them to pay for the development without them knowing, and stall them for a couple weeks while you crank out the new version real quick.  I also need you to spec out some new multi-company additions for it, and we have a major deal in the works for a couple hundred grand and I need to you be the point-person on that doing the systems discovery.  Make sure all that discovery time is billable, so I can get it in my commission report before the end of the month.
    If only evil people could use their powers for good instead of for marketing.



  • @mozbo said:

    At my current company, this sort of shit got fixed by making sales commissions only payable after software was delivered and signed off on by the customer. Sales reps selling vaporware quit when their income (deservedly) dropped to the poverty level. Internal politics dropped of considerably.

    Great idea.



    I once got stung by a salesman selling a product feature, to be delivered within 24 hours, that simply didn't exist.

    The guy was completely unable to understand that it simply isn't logical to sell something that doesn't exist, and expect everyone to be OK with that.



    He eventually got it, after I said I could get hold of some hooky BluRays of the latest films for him (which I couldn't), if he gave me money up front,

    then spent weeks stringing him along with lame excuses. The douche.



  • @GNU Pepper said:

    Hang the motherfucker out to dry. He's betting that you'll do whatever it takes to build the thing he promised ASAP. He's betting that you won't realise that you're in control of the situation. You've done nothing wrong, he's promised something unreasonable without consultation. This is a calculated maneuver on his part to maximize utility for himself at the expense of both the client and you, and it all hinges on you being too socially passive to speak up.

    +1 trillion. Watch the motherfucker burn.



  • @eViLegion said:

    I once got stung by a salesman selling a product feature, to be delivered within 24 hours, that simply didn't exist.

    The guy was completely unable to understand that it simply isn't logical to sell something that doesn't exist, and expect everyone to be OK with that.



    He eventually got it, after I said I could get hold of some hooky BluRays of the latest films for him (which I couldn't), if he gave me money up front,

    then spent weeks stringing him along with lame excuses. The douche.
    Seriously, do they actually teach this stuff in business school?

    First-year student:  Excuse me, professor, but I have a question.

    Prof:  Yes?

    1YS:  Suppose you have a customer who's on the fence and you can't get him to take the last step toward a commitment.

    Prof:  Simple.  Promise him something in addition to what you've already put on the table.

    1YS:  But what if what's on the table is all there is to offer?

    Prof:  Then make something up.  Invent something completely imaginary and tell him he gets that too if he signs.

    1YS:  And then when I'm unable to meet the obligation, what should I do?

    Prof:  You just tell him that your tech people fell down on the job.  Make sure you also copy your upper management on this part; that way your customer sees someone getting punished for not coming through with the goods, and your own reputation remains clean and shiny.



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