Should Salespeople Form a Labor Union?

Like many blogs, this one grew out of a personal experience that got me worked up and I remain worked up about it. So, we’ll call this blog therapy. I recently had a friend relate a troubling story to me.

My Friend Rides The Wrong Horse (“But It Felt So Good”)

He was a long time employee of Company X, which he joined when he was young – his first job in fact. When he joined, it seemed pretty cool that he was being paid more money than most of his peers in other jobs. He got a raise whenever others in the company got a raise, and he soon learned that it didn’t matter how hard he worked. In fact, his older “wiser” coworkers made it clear to my friend, that the FNG (e.g. “new guy”) should not excel or “show off”. That was a BIG no-no and would not be tolerated. His pay was determined by “suits” in a locked room. The workers’ advocate was a nameless, faceless lawyer-looking big shot “suit”- an impressive guy with a brand new luxury car each year.

A few years ago, the company was struggling – really in financial trouble. My friend saw it on the news. But amazingly, he still got nice raises. The big shot negotiators boasted they had simply threatened the company owners, giving them two choices:

  1. Give the collective bargaining units the pay bumps they were “due” or
  2. They would strike and put the company out of business. Hmm, pay what you cannot afford or be put out of business. Call me whacked, but this sure sounds like, “Give me what I want or I will hurt you”. Don’t people go to jail for that?

Back to the Point

So, care to guess what happened to my friend 6 weeks ago?  Some of you already know!  The company was REALLY in financial trouble earlier this year. When the negotiations were completed this time, after the same old Door Number 1 “give us what we want” or Door Number 2 “we’ll hurt you” ultimatums, it turns out the company owners had found a Door Number 3: move manufacturing to Malaysia and say, bye-bye to the glorified blackmailing. Doh!

Just Another Casualty of the Struggling Economy?

My friend is deeply depressed. He is pissed off (at the &^%$ company). He is 54 years old and has basically one narrow skill. And now there’s thousands of people in the unemployment line with the same skill. How many people do you know in this position?  How many stories sound alike?  How many storytellers blame “the company”?  How often do you hear how “un-American” corporations are being when they move manufacturing, or begin buying from, another country? I feel terrible for my friend but I think blame might be better placed a number of years back and in a different direction than “that greedy &^%$ corporation”.

I Thought This Was About Salespeople’s Union!

Right, the original point! So, I have these two other friends. They have had at least 6 or 8 jobs in the same time as my now-unemployed friend. They have made great money some years and not-so-great in other years.

But guess what?

They are both employed right now and they’ve never been unemployed for more than a few days. Why? Because they are survivors! Early on, they learned if they got up earlier, made more sales calls, and generally worked harder, they made more money. They have also worked at jobs that were “beneath” them when they had to. In the process they have learned about many different things and in my humble opinion; they have more eagerness and spirit than pride. What a system! Call me whacked, but it sounds a lot like the original immigrants that built our country. It sounds pretty flippin’ American to me!

I Changed My Mind – Now it’s About How Valuable and Impressive Salespeople Are!

Based on my observations over a number of years, I assert as inarguable, that the Sales division/department of ANY company is the most valuable – THE most important function of ANY company. Let your mind wander a bit. Look at organizations you know. Imagine if the salespeople were part of a collective bargaining group – if actual sales performance were irrelevant. Time on the job would determine the pay rate! Sell more, sell less, all receive the same pay. I asked a few salespeople this question and they just looked at me… blink… blink. It would not even process for them. One blurted out a huge sailor curse string. One laughed and walked away (to make more phone calls).

My Gratitude

I am not a salesperson at PagePath Technologies. I am certainly eager and I know I work very hard, but I am one of the those who benefit by the MyOrderDesk salespeople’s efforts. I am a business manager. And I’m grateful that most, if not all salespeople (at least the ones I know) think they’ll be just fine “bargaining” on their own (I believe it’s in our country’s best interest also). God’s blessed America.

How valuable are your salespeople? Think they’d benefit from a labor union? Love to hear you comments.