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The commission structure seems better and worse (better if I make a lot of sales worse in that the first 15 sales do nothing for me)

They mentioned this over the phone and told me the comission structure would be what we talked about anyway and to go ahead and sign.

How can I reconcile an offer letter which differs from what was talked about in the interview?

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    There's no right or wrong answer here - you either trust the company or not. – user44108 Jul 20 '18 at 6:44
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    @Snow Do you regularly sign contracts that say something different from what was agreed upon because you trust the company you're signing with? If not, then I'd say yes, there is indeed a right answer to this question. – user1602 Jul 21 '18 at 20:58
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If they said one thing, but you sign a different thing, then only what's in writing is going to matter.

Politely ask them whether they can send you a corrected version that includes the commission structure discussed on the phone.

This is an absurdly easy thing for them to do. So if they refuse to do it, for any reason whatsoever, then it's safe to say they're not planning to honor the commission structure they discussed on the phone. In that case, you should only sign the offer letter if you're happy with the terms in the offer letter.

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Take them at their word, cross out that clause, write in what was discussed, initial the changes, then sign it and date it.

Send it back to them (but don't hide what you've done, write in your cover letter that you've changed that clause to what you had talked about on the phone).

Then, the ball is in their court. Whatever you do, don't ask permission to change the offer letter. They'll give you some BS reason that you can't do that.

The commission structure seems better and worse (better if I make a lot of sales worse in that the first 15 sales do nothing for me)

If you're new to this type of sales, take the safer commission structure. That's what I would do, but that's only my opinion. Other opinions may differ.

If you're enticed by the riskier commission structure, find out the average of what other people are selling (or were selling when they started). Find out if the territories are equivalent. Find out if there is a lot of turnover in this job, if there is, you can't really compare yourself to the other salespeople.

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    Keep a photocopy or three of the altered, signed contract you send them. – John R. Strohm Jul 31 '18 at 0:49
  • In hindsight, don't sign the contract completely, just initial and date the change you've made to the clause, then send it back with a cover letter. You don't want to be put in a position of signing something, giving it to them, and then not knowing if they're going to sign it or not. It gives them too much leeway, and also, like John Strohm said, keep copies of everything, the original, the change, etc. – Stephan Branczyk Jul 31 '18 at 6:44
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If it isn't in the contract, then it isn't enforceable at all.

If they are being honest, then it is not real drama for them to sign what they're being honest about. If they're not, however, being honest...

It somewhat sounds like they're hedging their bets - if you don't sell well, well, bad luck, the first 15 are on the house. And if you do sell well, oh, gosh, remember that commission structure we talked about on the phone? The one where you earn less, and not the one we signed? We're using that one.

Sales is tricky, and if you're experienced I wouldn't sign a contract that was so obviously untethered to what was verbally discussed. However, only you really know what you want - I'm putting this in because you also seem happy with the potential of this contract to hedge - but you're simply looking at it from the other POV. (if I'm bad I discount the contract, if I'm good I argue to enforce it).

I'm not sure schrodinger's contract is the best way to work with other people, but this is all up to you.

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  • I don't see how the company could conceivably "go back" to the verbally discussed commission structure if there's a signed contract that says otherwise. They don't get to pick and choose after they see how the employee performs. – Nuclear Hoagie Jul 20 '18 at 16:43
  • @NuclearWang anyone can do anything, and it depends on how strong your position is if you can fight them. – bharal Jul 20 '18 at 17:21

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