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    Leadership Challenge: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

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    Terri Ann Masters, sales manager for Rudolph Manufacturing, was wrestling with a critical issue related to one of her longtime and until recently, most talented salespeople, Jason Benjamin. With the company for nearly 15 years, Jason had been one of its top salespeople for 11 of those years. At first, Terri Ann thought it was just bad luck and Jason would be able to turn it around. Now however after four years of seeing Jason miss sales targets and hearing increasing complaints from customers, Terri Ann knew somthing was wrong.

    This was especially critical for Rudolph because Jason called on some of the companys biggest clients. Jason had worked his way up in the company and had been given these accounts seven years ago. During his first threee years with the accounts, Jason generated substantial new business from his clients. Management at the customers had actually gone to the trouble of calling Terri Ann and complimenting Rudolph on the relationship Jason had established. The end result was that Jason frequently exceeded his sales quotas and recieved healthy bonuses.

    In the last few years however, there was very little new business coming from Jasons accounts. At the same time, Terri Ann knew these companies were growing and were taking business to other competitors. It was not that Jason had lost the accounts; they were still doing a reasonable business with Rudolph. Rather Terri Ann recongized there was additional business the company was not getting for some reason.

    Of even greater concern was the number of complaints about Jason that had been coming in to Terri Ann. Jason certainly did not have the greatest number of complaints, but given his history, they were high. In addition, Jason seemed to be less motivated. When Terri Ann would call his office on Friday afternoons, she would find that he had already left for the weekend. The "old" Jason was one of the hardest working salespeople in the company.

    The problem was coming to a head. Management had a big push on inside the company to increase productivity. Terri Ann also had several younger salespeople who were eager to move into larger more demanding and higher potential accounts.

    1. You are Terri Ann Masters. What would you do about Jason Benjamin?
    2. What would you do with these younger sales people who are looking for new opportunities inside the company?
    3. Offer ideas on why Jason's performance might have slipped after all these years with the company?

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    Solution Preview

    One of the most difficult tasks a sales manager faces is the motivation of a sales force. The diverse challenges of modern selling make this especially true. Salespeople may be scattered across a large geographical area; they may offer a broad product line to several diverse markets; their selling jobs are often technical and highly competitive; they may be part of a multifaceted sales team; and their expenses often represent a large portion of the company's marketing budget. Furthermore, many companies now have international sales forces whose composition adds even more complexity to the motivation challenge.

    Because salespeople's needs change as they move through the various stages of their careers, sales incentives and compensation must be adapted. In particular, sales trainees and older salespeople present special motivational challenges. It is hard to motivate trainees who must undergo long breaking in periods before they are productive. It is difficult to give them a feeling of accomplishment. It is especially difficult to generate enthusiasm for selling when trainees are technically trained but lack a sales orientation. For ...

    Solution Summary

    Definition of the needs of Sales People and how to motivate a sales force that is not producing or seems to have had a decline in performaance. Two questions answered as to what the Sales Manager should do with the employee and why the employee is not producing or what problems he may be having.