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Who Owns A Referral When It Is Outside An Assigned Sales Territory?

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Kimberly, the key contact person with one of your clients, has left the company. She has taken a position in a new company and has contacted her former salesperson, John, to contract with your firm to provide services.  She got to know John well as salespeople in your company are not just hunters, they also service their clients. In essence, the salespeople provide account management in addition to bringing in accounts.

While this sounds great, this situation is also problematic. Kimberly’s new company is not based in John’s sales territory. It’s in David’s territory. Yet, David has not closed any business in Kimberly’s company in the past. Even without Kimberly’s account in his portfolio, David is a top performer for your company while John is struggling. John is about to be placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP) given the delta between his revenue attainment and quota.

Today, both John and David walk into your office to stake their claim as each feels the deal is theirs. John argues that he generated the referral. David’s case is that the company is based in his sales territory. The battle lines are drawn as this new client represents a hefty commission check.

What is your decision-process to resolve the account ownership, commission and servicing in this situation?