Looks like Yelp will be dealing with extortion lawsuits quite a bit this year.
Now, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman goes on and on about how he knows what his sales force says when it makes cold calls on business owners. The thing is that Jeremy Stoppelman doesn’t know what his sales force says when it makes cold calls on business owners.
Check out this recent interview in the BidnessWeek magazine:
“BW: The plaintiff in the class action suit (Long Beach, CA-based veterinarian Cats & Dogs Hospital Inc) says that a Yelp salesman named Kevin repeatedly promised to make negative reviews go away if he would advertise on Yelp. Have you disciplined Kevin for breaking the company’s sales policies, and how many times have you had to discipline or fire salespeople for such transgressions?
“Stoppelman: We’ve never had to discipline a salesperson* about the issue that was laid out in the lawsuit.”
Salespeople (or “Account Executives”) spin and lie all the time, they think its their job to do so. In fact, it IS their job to do so. That’s how they make their money, right?
An alcohol-fueled Yelp XXX-Mas party, from back in the day:
Now, Yelp has this post-solicitation survey for you, the business owner. It has several functions, but one purpose, certainly, is to make you, the business owner, look like an idiot when you later file your extortion lawsuit. Why? Because you answered all the relevant queries, check out the questions in #4, in Yelp’s favor. Is this kind of survey going to be enough to carry the day for Yelp’s lawyers? We’ll see.
Unless there are audio recordings of all the phone calls sitting around somewhere, Jerry has no way to prove what he’s alleging, right?
Here’s a modest proposal:
1. Fire all the salespeople(the so-called EA’s) and just do without the business sponsorships or what have you. Make money in a different way. (Make less money in a more honest way, is what I’m saying); or
2. Record all of the cold calls that your sales crew makes. So, hello, may I speak with the owner, do I have your persimmon (mmm… persimmon) to record this conversation, etc… This will cut into revenue, possibly. (You’ll make less money in a more honest way, is what I’m saying.)
All the talk of Yelp’s internal corporate structure and church/state separation betwixt sales and content don’t mean a thing if you don’t know what your sales crew says to make commish. Right, Jeremy?
*Looks like Jerry has access to a lawyer or two as well, huh? How many hours of expensive coaching did Jerome pay for? Perhaps salesman Kevin is just “one bad apple?” Stay tuned…