The Sales Shift: A Fictitious Concurrent Two-Parter About Amy Williams and Simon Johnson

posted Jul 28, 2013, 7:29 PM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Jul 4, 2014, 2:57 PM ]
"Amy Williams Sends an Email"

The Los Angeles Office of SoCal Advertising has been short-staffed since Amy Williams was fired six weeks ago as a result of a scathing email she sent to Andy Kohler, the station manager of the Boston station for whom SoCal sells advertising time to Los Angeles-based clients. 

Andy had been in town for sales calls and Amy overheard him badmouthing her to the Artistic Films client she had been having difficulty with of late. It was her hope that a face-to-face between the client and the station would ease those tensions. While Amy’s plan worked, it ultimately did so at her expense as both had bonded over their perception that Amy was unable to effectively sell the station or service the client. After dropping Andy off the airport, Amy returned to her office to send him an email and slammed the door in such a manner that even her boss Christine hesitated to knock and find out what was going on.

Amy’s email to Andy was a recap of the general situation with the Artistic Films client, the events of that particular sales call and what she overheard. Had Amy waited a day or two before drafting the email, she wouldn’t have included several choice phrases referencing Andy’s personality or listing examples of his tendency to blow things out of proportion simply because he likes to cause trouble for the sales team as a whole. But Amy wanted the email to be waiting in his inbox by the time he landed back in Boston. Unfortunately for Amy, Andy’s flight was delayed so he was still at the airport when her email popped up on his Blackberry.

Christine knew how Andy often treated his salespeople so she wanted to give Amy time to calm down before speaking with her about the email he immediately forwarded to her. Unfortunately, Andy went into overdrive and not only forwarded the email to his boss but also to Christine’s boss in the home office calling for Amy’s immediate termination. He even went so far as to include his own examples of how Amy had been ineffective in selling his station. Andy's overblown conclusion that “her inability to establish effective relationships with our clients will continue to not only be a detriment to my station but to the company’s overall bottom line” all but sealed Amy’s fate with SoCal Advertising.

Though Amy felt justified with the first half of her email, the angry second half concerned her and she had planned to talk to Christine about it before the shit hit the fan – which unbeknownst to her had already occurred. 

When Amy walked into the office the next morning, she immediately noticed Christine’s closed door and knew that the prognosis as to the status of her job with SoCal was not good. What she could presume but not know for sure was that behind that closed door was a flurry of emails and phone calls going back and forth between the home office, the station management, Andy and Christine – with Christine serving as Amy’s lone advocate as she repeatedly asked them all to let her handle the situation.

To Christine’s relief and to Amy’s benefit, the final verdict, which came down from the COO shortly before lunchtime, was that the matter should be handled locally between Christine, Andy and Amy. Though she did not share in Andy’s perception of Amy, Christine knew that Amy’s conduct could not go unpunished. Still, she was not yet ready to face her, so Christine sent an email to Amy requesting that they meet at 6pm that evening.

However unfortunate it was, Amy’s potentially career-limiting blunder was inadvertently timed rather fortuitously with the availability of Simon Johnson, whose current contract with Eagle Media was set to expire. Christine had been passively courting Simon for quite some time and with SoCal set to acquire a regional station to represent and sell advertising time for, the timing was right for her to bring him into the SoCal fold.

After a lunch meeting with Simon during which she presented him with an offer that couldn’t be refused, Christine went back to dealing with the Amy situation. Having been granted more control over its handling, Christine immediately went to work calling around to her fellow sales managers – many of whom were longtime industry friends – explaining the unfortunate Amy situation and the unenviable task at hand. The only person she hadn’t called was Janice King, the sales manager at Eagle Media who had heard about the Amy situation through the grapevine of media buyers and members of her own sales team.

At 6pm, Amy reported to Christine’s office for what they both knew was going to happen. Amy didn’t want to hear the words any more than Christine wanted to say them but after an uncharacteristically lengthy speech about Amy’s stellar job performance, her surprising mishandling of the Andy situation and the myriad of “next step” discussions with the higher-ups, Christine fired Amy.

As Amy cleaned out her office, Christine watched as members of the sales team said their goodbyes to her on their way out. Though each had heard about the Andy situation, they were surprised at how quickly she had been fired. Christine listened while everyone made plans for an impromptu happy hour in Amy’s honor and then watched while she was escorted out of the building. As the elevator closed, she checked her voicemail to hear a message from Simon accepting the position and another from Janice asking about the current status of Amy’s job with SoCal.

Six weeks later, Simon’s contract with Eagle Media was officially expired and he reported to work at SoCal.

On the other side of town, Amy Williams reported to work with Eagle Media under the management of Janice King.  


"Simon Johnson Gets a New Job" 

Christine had her on eye on Simon Johnson for several months after it was announced that a new regional station was signing on with SoCal and that she would need to hire on at least one new Account Manager. 

Simon was an Account Manager in the classic sense – he looked the part, he knew the part and he was the part. Christine respected the fact that he came up through the ranks from the assistant level armed with knowledge of the business and an enthusiasm to apply it.

Simon had been with Eagle Media since that auspicious beginning and Christine considered him to a well-kept secret in the local advertising community. What she liked best about him was that he was pacing himself to rise through the ranks to account management. 
While many of his peers jumped at the chance to be Account Managers before they were ready, Simon held off. Whereas many of his peers were now jumping at the chance to be Senior Account Managers, Simon continued to hold off.

In piecing together this history, Christine figured that other sales managers would offer him that higher position but she knew SoCal had an advantage in offering him an Account Manager position because most of the TV stations they represented were in higher profile markets smaller firms like Eagle Media had no presence.

Christine had seen Simon at a few industry events but they had yet to formally meet. But she had heard through the grapevine that his contract with Eagle was up for review. Though the deal with the regional station was a few months away, she secretly set up a meeting with him through several trustworthy friends in the media buying community. She had already planned on pairing him with fellow up-and-comer Erick Davidson knowing that a) she and Simon would make a great team because of their similar approaches to their work, b) Erick would learn a lot from Simon and c) she wanted Simon to help her groom Erick for an eventual account management position.

However unfortunate it was, Amy Williams’s blunder was timed rather fortuitously with Simon’s availability. By that time, Christine had already met with Simon at her favorite haunt, Fiddler’s Bistro on 3rd Street. It was a shrewd move on her part as other firms were known for wining and dining desirable candidates with expensive meals at such typical places to be seen such as Morton’s Steakhouse, McCormick and Schmick’s or Spago – which went far beyond Simon’s Midwestern tastes. Christine considered Fiddler’s to be another one of LA's well-kept secrets.

As was her M.O., Christine dispensed with the business at hand before the appetizers were even brought to the table so that the two could enjoy their meal. She explained to Simon that she had heard great things about him from both the rep community, the media buying community and even from various stations he was currently working with where she had contacts. Simon was pleasantly surprised and responded that he was completely unaware that he was held in such esteem. Christine cut to the chase and made him an offer effective immediately following the expiration of his current contract with Eagle. She told him to think it over and keep her in the loop as to any other offers that may come in. With that, the waiter brought out the appetizers and the two shared a delightful conversation about their careers and the current state of the industry.

With Simon still mulling over the SoCal offer that couldn’t be refused, Christine was dealing with the Amy Williams situation. After word came in from the home office that the matter was to be handled locally, Christine immediately went to work calling around to her fellow sales managers – many of whom where longtime industry friends – explaining the unfortunate Amy situation and the unenviable task at hand. The only person she hadn’t called was Janice King, the sales manager at Eagle who had heard about the Amy situation through the grapevine of media buyers and members of her own sales team.

Simon had met with Janice that morning to discuss the offer from SoCal that couldn’t be refused. Being the loyal sort, Simon wanted to be open and honest with Janice regarding his feelings about the offer as well as the possibility of leaving a company that had taken him under its wing when he was a recent college graduate who made his way to Los Angeles from Indiana and turned him into the media man so highly sought after by the likes of Christine Taylor.

Janice had played a significant role in Simon’s rise through the Eagle ranks. From a management standpoint, she wanted to keep him on her team but she knew that Eagle was not going to be able to match SoCal’s offer. From a personal standpoint, Janice had aggressively risen so highly through the Eagle ranks herself that the opportunity to sell stations in Top Tier markets passed her by several years ago and she knew that SoCal provided a greater opportunity for Simon to further his career.

With that in mind, she gave Christine a quick call to recommend Simon for the job at SoCal and to inquire about the Amy Williams situation she'd heard rumblings about. 

Six weeks later, Simon’s contract with Eagle Media was officially expired and he reported to work with SoCal where he was introduced to his assistant, Erick Davidson.

On the other side of town, Amy reported to work with Eagle Media under the management of Janice King -- who started off by joking that  Amy to come to her first with any station management issues.