I am a software developer in my company for two years now. I am fairly good, I get along with everyone and when it comes to giving solutions customers I am the go to developer.

We are working on an open source CRM/Analytics project, basically we modify it as per customer's needs.

Now, on my free time I blog about this software because I think it really delivers what it promises. People have reached out to me on this and basically I have brought them as customers in our company.

Now since I am blogging on my own time, would it be appropriate to ask my boss for a percentage of the revenue from these customers?

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    For the record: when you say "blog about this software", you mean the open source BASE package, not the stuff your company delivers, right? – Erik Jan 25 '17 at 11:57
  • Does marketing currently pay a finders fee for leads (if the sale closes)? – paparazzo Jan 25 '17 at 12:28
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    Attempting to tactfully negotiate better terms is never inappropriate. Whether you have any chance of being successful is another matter. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Jan 25 '17 at 15:41
  • I think talking about blogging is really confusing people. You're simply asking if it's appropriate to ask your boss for a finder's fee based on people you directly refer to the company. The side comment is that you just happened to pull it off by blogging in your own time, which isn't really relevant. – The Muffin Man Jan 25 '17 at 22:54

In general the answer is no. However, I will share an exception that has worked out for me in the past.

The type of leads your generating based on your blog are considered weak leads. In these cases, you are not entitled to a commission or finder fee.

If you have a strong contact at a company who has decision making power there is nothing wrong with asking for a finders fee should that introduction lead to a sale.

The big difference here is turning over a lead without any sort of known potential and one who is actually a decision maker that can buy the product.

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    OP states "People have reached out to me on this and basically I have brought them as customers in our company.". I'd say that's as strong of a lead as you can get. – The Muffin Man Jan 25 '17 at 22:59

I'd like to go beyond your initial proposed solution, and encourage you to think about this opportunity a bit differently.

Right now you have an activity that could potentially be of value to your company, and it is not a part of your regular job. By seeking "financial consideration" for your activity, you would effectively be asking to make this part of your job, or otherwise you would be making the situation quite complicated. If it isn't part of your job, but you are being paid for it, are you then both an employee and a contractor? When you are blogging, are you now officially doing so as an employee of the company, and the company is liable for things you say (and/or promises you make) on your website? There is a lot of legal, accounting, and authority issues here, and it is unlikely that it will be easy for your company to say yes to you - which means you are far more likely to end in an awkward situation where not only do they need to tell you no, but might object to your current 'private' blogging as well.

Instead, here's what I would suggest you consider. Depending on the flexibility of your organization and your relationship with your manager, I'd consider having a meeting with your manager and discussing your interests. You appear to be interested in taking on some additional responsibilities, such as blogging, supporting the company publicly, and even helping generate sales leads, and if you just started "accidentally" producing leads then this is a good argument that you might be good at this sort of work in the future, so communicate your interest to your manager. Some workplaces strictly avoid this kind of thing (a culture of "that's not what we are paying you for"), while others are flexible and would jump at the chance to get a technical person more involved in building sales and public relations.

If you do this, you would either be trying to build a new (minimally tested and demonstrated) skill set, and expand your current role into more of a hybrid position. There are in fact lots of jobs for highly technical people with experience in sales, marketing, and public relations, and you would effectively be developing into having this as an opportunity for you in the future.

If you decide to take this track, you should not necessarily be concerned with an immediate pay raise, unless there is an existing role in your company that fits what you are suggested (combined developer/social media, etc) and that would have a higher pay rate than you currently make. If your company is interested in having you try out this role, you might ask if they would reconsider your salary for such an expanded role of responsibility and value, which could include a commission/bonus style of incentive that is more typical of sales-related workers (if that's what you really want, otherwise don't suggest it).

So in conclusion, just asking for money for something no one asked you to do probably wouldn't go well for anyone, and the complexity of paying an employee for things that they supposedly aren't doing as an employee (like generating leads in their personal time) makes this unlikely to be approvable, but your experiences and interests can absolutely be the basis for talking about changing and expanding your job roles and responsibility. This could even lead to a different career track, which may or may not increase your pay compared to your current track, but providing additional value to your organization (especially when it is easily measured in dollars) can often be a great negotiating point for increased pay.

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  • "Right now you have an activity that could potentially be of value to your company". No, OP states that people have specifically reached out to him and signed up. I think the confusion in OP's question is "can i ask for compensation since I'm promoting for the company" when he should have left the bloggin part out of it. The real question is "If I refer a customer to my company and they buy, can I ask for a royalty". – The Muffin Man Jan 25 '17 at 22:52

Finders fees are common.

It kind of depends on what basically of "basically I have brought them as customers" is. For a qualified lead ready to buy and you have a high conversion rate then yes. If it is just I am interested where can a I get a quote then no.

I disagree with another answer on must it be a decision maker. If a tech team puts your company on the short list because of your input that is valuable.

You have the option to blog about the open source and never refer them.

You should not blog about the services of you company if this is a personal blog.

If your boss says no then just drop it.

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Salesmen who are on commission generally accept a lower base salary in exchange for the opportunity to earn more than the average employee if they do a good job of bringing in customers. Unless you are willing to take that deal of potentially being paid less, don't make too much noise about commissions.

And as others have said, be careful; trying to sell to customers without knowing exactly what you can and can't say in that situation can have serious legal and financial consequences, for the company and for you as an individual.

If you really want to shift your career more toward sales, talk with manglement about how to do it right.

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You do not have a marketing/sales contract with your organisation. Your role is software developer. And you cannot bill for unsolicited "extra" work performed, or value added, after the fact. You say you're just considering "asking", but the distinction seems negligible to me… and likely also to your boss.

Feel free to attempt to negotiate a new role in marketing/sales, but don't be surprised if you are turned away and asked to focus on the work for which you were actually hired.

In addition, though you haven't addressed this point in your question (so I don't know what the situation is), you may wish to be careful about revealing that you've decided to go off and market the product on your own. The company will have its own marketing strategy, using its own formally-approved copy and wording, and unless you had approval then you've gone off and potentially undermined that.

Personally, I would recommend that you completely cease this approach unless you have a very good reason for advertising the product on your personal website, outside of the business's own marketing framework.

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A percentage? No, probably not.

There's a lot more to it than just getting the customer's interest. What you are doing is marketing and lead generation. Closing the deal takes a lot of effort (in most cases) so sales are usually paid commission (and less salary).

That said, you might want to negotiate a salary bump with your boss or potential marketing fee for your blog. Be preared for a "no" in both cases, but it doesntt hurt to ask (provided it's the right question).

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You're providing revenues to the company beyond what you're expected to do.

Taking advantage of that is perfectly fine, you simply need to decide how and bring it up with your manager.

Employees often negotiate their salary every year or two. You should definitely bring this up and argue that you'd either want a cut of the sales or simply a higher salary based on what you're bringing to the company.

Whether your writings result directly in sales or not its probably safer to simply ask for a higher salary rather than counting on direct sales coming in due to your writings. Its hard to say whether what you've said influences people to buy the product/service or whether it was the main cause for the sale, thus its very, very hard to keep track of and it can be hard for management to justify shares as a direct result of sales but its easier to justify a higher salary when you're overall providing more value.

If you can prove in every case that you were the one to bring in the customers, then there's nothing wrong with asking, the worst thing that can happen is that you get a no, I personally think it would be better for you and easier for management to accept a simple raise.

But appropriate? Sure, if you can prove that the sale would otherwise not have taken place. But by all means, just ask for a raise.

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  • I disagree. This activity is beneficial to the company and as a result they continue to be able to employ your services to deliver the final product. Would it be fair if a salesperson visited a client side and did a little configuration on the spot and then come back and ask for additional compensation, no it's part of being a valued employee of the company. The company's success is your success. – Bill Leeper Jan 25 '17 at 22:38
  • The difference here is that the employee is doing something in his spare time. He doesn't have to, he could stop. But if the employer values it then it doesn't hurt to ask, worst case you get a no. – Jonast92 Jan 26 '17 at 10:10

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