So many sales people walk through our door and tell that us they want to work for a “Pre-IPO vendor that’s offering stock”.
It’s a pathetic and very stupid cliche.
I read a very interesting piece online recently about a company that we all know very well called Dropbox and their plans for a potential IPO.
There are some fascinating facts in there actually.
Last year “there were 169 IPOs, which raised $30 billion in 2015. Not only was that a 39 percent drop in volume, and a 65 percent drop in money raised, but numbers were the lowest since 2009, which was right in the heart of the recession.”
You see I’ll cut to the chase about these demanding people that we call “six/home run hitters” or “shovers”. The nicknames come from cricket where a man takes to the wicket with the intent of hitting a six instead of grinding out singles. In poker people “shove” with an “all in” bet hoping to make a big killing instead of steadily winning some blinds and some hands during the course of the night. In sales there are some sales people who are hell-bent in bypassing the hard yards of the job in order to make a big killing straight away by joining a pre-IPO company, getting a boatload of stock, floating or selling and riding off into the sunset.
I like to categorise these folks as follows.
1. The Loser
The loser hasn’t hit a target or earned any REAL commission for ages. He has probably moved jobs every 26 months or so for the last few moves. He has been gently coaxed out of those positions as he got found out after having had a full year of carrying target. There will be some serious glory in the CV somewhere, probably with a big company and some good commissions four to six years ago. He hasn’t stopped living like he’s earning that sort of money since. He’s in debt, he’s behind and he needs a big killing just to get back on even keel. He has a private number plate on that elderly Porsche…
The Narcissus has had a very good run of it over several moves and has consistently hit targets. He has worked for good companies with good technologies that were relevant and credible in the market at that time, some of them were even quite nascent. He has talent and he is going to make the most of it and cash in whilst he can. Nothing can stop him being successful and he CAN’T fail.
3. The green-eyed monster
The green-eyed monster has got a mate who has a mate whose brothers best mates sisters aunt worked at Microsoft as a toilet cleaner in the early 90’s and now lives in tax exile on a yacht in international waters. Everyone he knows seems to be stock option bazillionaires and he is bitter about it so is going to make it happen for himself.
4. The FOMO
The FOMO like the green-eyed monster has a mate who currently works for a VC backed company on the periphery of Shoreditch where the staff have a “bring your llama to work day” on Thursdays and all have two hundred million stock options each. The company probably makes an app that allows gym users to pool together and share their underpants washing rota. He has a horrific fear of missing out and so MUST work for a pre IPO company with stock.
4. The empty-nester
The empty nester’s kids have long since left home and he has had a good career thus far having been careful with his cash and consistent in his achievements. He doesn’t need to worry about school fees or mortgages and in reality, if he had a job a year for the next ten years wouldn’t give a damn. He has played the corporate game to the Nth degree and needs (and deserves) some excitement. he wants to bring his llama to work and he fancies something totally (to him) crazy.
5. The trustafarian
The trustafarian has family money coming at some point and doesn’t care if he wins or loses. He can afford to take some big risks and has the panache and devil may care salesmanship of someone who doesn’t really need to make it happen which actually rather weirdly makes him quite good at it. He can and WILL take lots of risks.
The loser should not be looking for pre -IPO companies. In the market that we are in, and with his track record he is NEVER going to be attractive to any top company that is pre-IPO. They buck the candidate driven market trend and can still hire elite performers like the trustafarian and the empty nester. If he gets “stock” the percentage likelihood of him cashing in is very slim and I mean thousands to one slim. He is on poor form and won’t sell much anyway. The company will be expecting a miracle he can’t bring because he screwed them for stock options and a huge package at interview. This will be another bad move on his CV that will lower his market value and will mean that he has to perpetuate the vicious circle of increasing his basic salary in order to dig out of his financial hole and decreasing the likelihood of his success.
Narcissus should think twice. He’s about to drown in his own reflection. Attractive to lots of employers he’s easy to hire with his glamour CV and gilded P60’s and as vain as he is will take the job with the biggest piece of the pie which usually means the one with the least attractive value proposition to all parties. He’ll fail, try again, fail again and become the loser.
The green-eyed monster should be careful what he wishes for because he might just get it when actually he wasn’t doing badly where he was. Let’s hope he puts it down to experience and a “blip” on an otherwise excellent CV.
The FOMO should chill out. Similar to the green-eyed monster he should read the papers, watch the news and realise the odds. He isn’t missing out on that much.
Our empty nester could possibly have a go if he could honestly retire tomorrow. If not he should think again as he can end up being an elderly candidate with a track record that has gone awry.
Our trustafarian should check the size of his trust for the above reasons.
In over 5000 interviews I reckon I can tell you of 50-75 sales people that I have met that have really done well out of “startup” / pre-IPO options. I have met others who have added nicely to the pot with corporate options but it simply isn’t that common. Most of those career moves end in tears and a damaged track record which can easily precipitate a decline.
We get into sales because its fun.
We get into sales because we can leverage our effort and skills into commission over the years. What the hell is so wrong with that?