Tim Malone, MCSE (818) 257-0513 email@example.com
Sales Manager at Kenfil Distribution
In 1989, when I was 32 years old, I was promoted to be the telemarketing sales manager for a fast growing software distribution company called Kenfil. It was unexpected as I previously had very little staff management experience. I was placed in charge of fifteen bright, young, enthusiastic and talented salespeople. Some were professionals with years of experience behind them but most were in the first year or two of their sales careers.
For the next two years, I relished going to work every day,
sometimes arriving at 6:30 in the morning just to get a handle on things in the
fast paced and hectic sales environment.
The job was in Van Nuys and I lived in
I had been with the company previously for six months as a
regional telemarketing manager and quickly built my territory in sales from
next to nothing to a quarter million or more.
Feeling somewhat unrecognized and unfulfilled, I left for a few months
to try my hand at some sort of self-employed computer-related business. I failed miserably. I had no clue what I really wanted to do and
was making no money. I went to work for
a retail store in
After a few months as the product manager, the sales manager quit (Libby Weigand) and that’s when I was asked to be the new sales manager by the President of the company, Irwin Bransky. I knew I could do the job but had a little resistance from some of the people who had been there a lot longer than I had. They knew the system and didn’t feel that they needed me. At first they wouldn’t come to my staff meetings and wouldn’t fulfill the assignments I gave them under the direction of the President. They had established themselves, had all the big customers and acted like they didn’t need anybody. They were Prima Donnas.
The newer salespeople loved me right away because I helped them get their rush orders through and created sales reports for them to use in their daily sales efforts. Soon the long-time employees were asking me for sales reports for their areas and asking me to do other things for them. To free up some of his time, the President gave me more and more authority to approve deals. He even told the long-time staff to stop going to him and to see me for approval on their deals. That caused me to feel good. I enjoyed the authority.
Because of that authority, we were getting more and more big deals and the company was growing tremendously fast. I hired and trained more people and we started to take more market share away from the big competitors. We were getting noticed in the industry and sales were skyrocketing. We went from $85 million to $125 million in less than a year. I felt great. The salespeople were exceeding quotas and I was getting bonuses month after month. It was exhilarating to be in the center of the action every day.
The second year was more of the same until the President started to get greedy. Part of my job was to arrange vendor promotions. Most new software publishers wanted to get their product out there quicker but had no direct contact with the retail stores. They were more than pleased to come in and work with our sales staff on occasion. I would invite them to provide some additional incentive for the staff to recommend their product over the competitor’s product that day. They came with cash and food and T-shirts and prizes and everyone made a ton of extra money on those days.
We invited more and more vendors to come and promote their products. Pretty soon we were doing these cash incentive days three or more times a week. The President saw how much money his salespeople were taking home and decided he wanted a bigger piece of the action. Some of the top salespeople already made more than he did because of a generous commission structure, and he said he was OK with that. But when one salesrep sandbagged a thousand piece order and got a $5,000 spiff, he looked like he was jealous.
The next day he required me to implement a new policy that all spiffs were to be paid by the vendors to the company instead of directly to the salespeople. The company would accumulate the incentives and pay them out every two weeks. He also informed us that there would be a 5% “processing fee” taken out of every check. Now this didn’t sit well with the sales staff and it proved to be a demoralizing factor. The 5% wasn’t for taxes. It was to go directly into the President’s pocket and everybody knew it.
It was all I could do to keep some of the big producers from jumping ship and going to the competition. I had many longs talks with the staff in my office, sometimes one on one and sometimes in small groups. In spite of the difficult situation, I again felt that I was in my element because I was building trust, confidence and loyalty. I really enjoyed these counseling sessions and am pleased to say that not one salesperson left during this difficult time even though many had standing offers to go to the bigger distributors.
However, things only got worse. Some of the vendor promotions were paid based on sales over a certain period of time. As I was in charge of providing those reports, I was shocked when one day the President asked me to pad the numbers by including sales from a week before and a week after the promotion period. I couldn’t believe it. I refused. He got angry and said he would provide the vendor with the report himself. I remember a meeting later that month with the vendor in which he asked me to explain the numbers as he was certain we hadn’t really shipped that many during the promotion.
I told the vendor the truth and began looking for a new job. I was certain my boss would fire me but it never happened. I know the vendor confronted him about the report, but he squirmed out of it somehow. Because times were good in the software industry, I soon had a job offer and submitted my resignation. I was flattered when the President had the new Vice President of Sales, Casey Hughes, offer me a 55% increase in salary and a cut of the company take on the spiffs, but I just couldn’t work for him any more.
Irwin Bransky of Kenfil Software was later found guilty of insurance fraud and spent several years in prison after he destroyed software and claimed it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. I’m glad I left when I did. Some things are just more important than money.