|What’s the future of salespeople in corporate America? A shake-up at American Express provides some interesting clues.
The credit-card giant reorganized its small-business sales division last year, cutting some 150 salespeople and reassigning another 100 to new roles that included a new compensation structure.
From Amex’s perspective, the move was part of its regular overview of how it serves its clients. But some of those affected say they were blindsided and are being scapegoated for a series of investigations into Amex’s sales practices, Insider’s Dakin Campbell reports.
The situation at Amex might sound familiar to anyone who has followed the issues that have plagued Wells Fargo over the years. It also raises questions about the role of salespeople within an organization and the freedom they have to operate as long as they keep bringing in revenue.
At Amex, the core of the issue is a product whereby small-business owners could use business income to pay employee expenses, collecting personal credit-card rewards points in the process. Some salespeople pitched it as a tax product, suggesting customers could write off the fee Amex charged as a business expense.
Amex has sought to portray those efforts as the work of rogue salespeople acting out of line. Former salespeople, meanwhile, suggest that’s how they were trained to sell the product.
Regardless of whose side you’re on, it’s easy to see how corporations might look to tighten the reins on its salespeople. There will always be a need for people to sell your stuff — although, ChatGPT isn’t far behind — but the days of giving them complete freedom might be behind us.