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The Sarasota Journal

Inevitable change and the Restructuring of the Sales Force {CASE ANALYSIS }

Cheryl DSouza 014 A Date: 25/02/2011 Prof: Mini Mathur


1. Wilma Collins nearing her retirement age and suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis, switching jobs at this point will make extensive demands on her health.

2. For survival in the industry, it is imperative that Sarasota Journals up the ante and move heavily into the online advertising sector to generate revenues.

3. Ann frank being a relatively new recruit contributed the minimum revenue i.e. around 4,00,000 $

4. People who spent two years in the company are relatively young and new to the industry.

Theme: Inevitable change and the Restructuring of the sales force

Evidences of the theme:

a. The case mentions how as internet websites have become more popular among the masses and extensive promotion of these websites by their companies has eaten off a significant proportion of the advertising revenues of the newspaper industry. Thus as internet technology keeps penetrating into the masses and people choose newer and more interactive mediums to gain access to the same information, is an example of inevitable change (new entrants into the industry offering stiff competition) that the newspaper industry will have to accept.

b. In order to maintain profitability, Sarasota Journals is experiencing changes within itself in the form of the purchase of new technologies to maintain profitability, venturing into the online space (online newspaper division) and is therefore cutting back on staff, the latter being an example of the restructuring of the sales force.

c. The case also mentions how the consumers’ preference as the most preferred medium for advertisements has changed in the sense that they are more likely to visit sites that cater specifically to the industry or sector. E.g. for job openings; and are less likely to take recourse to a newspaper that includes all kinds of advertisements for all sectors without the option of customization.

d. Towards the end of the meeting Bob Bowen also asks his department to reorganise their departments and incorporate certain changes to brace the inevitable change in the external environment. These would entail internal changes like training and development of the employees and possibly even the laying off of employees. This instance highlights both the inevitable change within the organization and the potential restructuring because of it.

Is Wilma Collins the right person for the sales manager position at the Sarasota Journal? Given her background, health issues, and age, does she have the qualifications and energy to identify what changes need to be made and to implement them within the sales department?

Ans 1. Wilma Collins has been in the newspaper industry business since the last 25 years and has handled sales for Sarasota Journal for quite some time now, it is in my personal opinion that she is fit for the job, this despite the fact that the consumers have now moved beyond traditional modes of transmitting information and generating advertising revenues.

Background: Given her extensive experience in the field, that too within the same industry, the job role fit couldn’t have been more obvious.

Health Issues: Although Wilma suffers from a few health issues as a result of her age, she is quite higher up in the hierarchy to get involved in on the field sales which would have made a tremendous demand on her. Since her job role clearly defines managing and supervising the work of the sales force, her health issues don’t seem to be a hindrance in the case.

Given this information, it can be understood that Wilma does have the necessary skills to gauge the magnitude of the problem and implement necessary actions in the sales force. She would have the required knowledge and experience in understanding what measures to implement to deal with a change of this magnitude. However there are other factors at play in this case which need to be considered before putting the onus of increasing the sales only on Wilma Collins.

One needs to understand that the average reader has evolved and now prefers newer technologically

driven mediums to access information and other advertisements as per requirements. This is an example


how markets and consumer preferences change over time. This is an indication for Sarasota Journals


redevelop their service to appeal to the customersnewer needs. This doesn’t fall within the purview


Wilmas sales work profile rather at the service designing and development stage. Therefore of one

needs to consider ways and alternatives of rejuvenating the sales of the concerned newspaper, one need

to consider alternatives earlier in the service development process.

Compare Bob Bowens optimism and leadership to that of Wilma Collins. How important is it for a sales manager to provide a positive outlook when leading a sales team? Explain

Ans 2.

Bob Bowen: He looks like a very rational person who does not paint a rosy picture when it isn’t. Neither does he paint a very grim picture. He states facts that will let his employees know the situation the way it is which will aid them in grasping the seriousness of it. As he outlines goals for the organization over the next 3 years, he outlines a plan of action for the employees to work towards which also act as a great motivating could factor.

Wilma Collins: She doesn’t look like someone who focuses her energies and attention where it is required. She is clearly more pre occupied with retaining her job at Sarasota Journals (considering the fact that she is single and nearing retirement) rather than the well being of the journal. In addition to this seems to be a pessimist as she has totally given up on the existing business model and believes that it has no scope to compete against niche internet companies advertising for products and services catering

to the particular industry.

A sense of optimism and a motivating leadership style is very essential to an organization that is fighting

for survival. Such an atmosphere gives the employees a sense that all is not lost and keeps motivating them to try harder and explore newer avenues to reach the goal. An optimistic outlook on the part of the leader rubs off on the employees and the whole process of reaching a goal and the steps to achieve it

becomes a collective group experience.

If you were Wilma, explain how you would stay focussed on your job knowing you had a better job offer on the table with another organization not in turmoil.

Ans 3:

It is but obvious that any person in Wilmas shoes at this point in time will feel tempted to take up the job offer proposed by John Franks. Considering the fact that her salary increases and the job is more stable than the current one is beneficial to financially. The job however makes considerable demands on her health which does not benefit her considering the ailments she suffers from.

One needs to consider the fact that working for Sarasota Journals for quite a number of years, it would mean that she has developed an emotional connect with the place and would find it difficult to leave it in times of crisis.

Therefore if I were Wilma I would try and analyse my priorities. I would be in sync with the objectives outlined by Bob Bowen. I would go beyond my capacity to figure out ways and means to help Sarasota Journals. At the same time I would be a good and effective leader and try motivating the employees under me to keep working harder to achieve sales which are the final measure for any companys success. I would propose changing the positioning of the newspaper as the image of Sarasota Journals in the mind of its readers is a drab traditional newspaper and find newer ways to communicate this positioning to the readers. By doing this I put Sarasota Journals at par with the competitors and in the same league as them

By engaging in these activities I get more deeply involved in my current organization and make myself more accountable to the fate of the organization. This would thus keep me more focussed on making a success out of an organization on the brink of failure rather than take up a cushy job with no challenges.

If you were Wilma, what organizational changes would you present to Bob? Make your suggestions based on the sales staff performance data. What other information about the staff might be beneficial for you to know before making your recommendations?

Ans 4:

Keeping assumption 2 in mind, it necessary to understand that the sales force which works first hand in generating sales, needs to have the necessary skill in online advertising sales as this is the way forward as the market and consumer demand changes. Therefore it becomes essential to retain and recruit people who know what advertisers preferences and consumer patterns are and who are knowledgeable with the technical aspects of the medium.

At the same time the newspaper should not ignore traditional advertising sales in the hard copy of the newspaper as they too cater to a segment of the population that is not too net savvy.

Based on appendix 1,

a. John Ackerman has great potential in online ad sale but has not generated sufficient revenue as compared to the others. However it is important to note that he has worked with SJ only for 2 years

and one assumes that his sales will pick by volume as time passes. Similarly Betty Freeman also is a great value add to the company.

b. Performances of Joan Archer, Carrie Wilson as per the data shown is unclear. Based on assumption 3, Ann Carter has made the least contribution in the triad. To divide the remaining revenue among the rest, one can safely assume that the two have performed averagely well. However it is necessary to remind them to up the ante in this crisis situation

c. Frank Jackson & Tom Freeman have over a period of time generated significant revenues for the

company. As offline sales shouldn’t be ignored by the company, these employees are crucial as they have their forte in this category.

d. Francis Rosen, given his years of experience has done very poorly in the area.

have any one medium of expertise.

He also he doesn’t not

Based on the data therefore it can be observed that people newly recruited in have performed very well in online sales. Therefore as Wilma Collins, I would recommend recruiting people:

- New people with an experience and skills required for selling online ad space.

- Laying off people (d) who have not contributed significantly to the revenue.

- Retain expertise in respective mediums but try building skills (through training) even in the other medium. For instance, Frank Jackson is great with offline sales and he should also learn to build the skills and knowledge associated with online sales. As the market constantly keeps changing he should be well equipped with skills which won’t make him redundant employee in the future. Although the verticals are not clearly demarcated, people could help others in their area of expertise.

In short it is necessary to hire younger, net savvy people who are in tune with the demands made by advertisers. At the same time one need to retain people who have a stronghold in offline sales.

Additional Information that would prove to be useful would be

- Ages of the employees which would determine if age was a significant factor in generating online sales.

- The years of experience accumulated by the employees outside Sarasota Jounrnals.

- The individual revenue generation by Ann Carter to give her the benefit of doubt considering the fact that she is a new recruit.

- Their skills as mentioned in their CVs

What impact does the Internet have on the Sales Profession? Are all market organizations (like newspapers) going to become obsolete? Who needs to drive the need for cultural change within an organization?

Ans 5:

The Impact of the Internet on the Sales Profession.

- It reduces the work load of the sales force in terms of time and money spent in taking orders. Using the internet, a consumer can interface directly with the company and place his order. It thus eliminates the middle man in the whole sales process. It also reduces back end work as the data entered by the consumer is directly assimilated at the companys end. The company can thus reduce the amount it invests in its sales force and can only have a few people to act as an interface for the company.

- The internet may also facilitate greater sales, as it provides an opportunity for greater interactive and engaging advertising which can boost sales volumes.

- Since companies remunerate the sales force on the targets achieved, orders that are placed online eat up into the potential customer base of the salespeople making their job all the tougher.

- The internet however makes service/ product delivery a lengthy process in some cases as there is a significant time that passes between taking sales orders and delivery.

- Despite the predatory nature of the internet however, it would be unwise to completely ignore the on ground sales force, as there will always be a certain population can be catered too only through one to one contact.

In my opinion old market organizations will eventually faze out because the current generations prefers all their recreation and information generation online. Gone are the days when people preferred traditional forms of the same. As newer technology develops that provides the same services in a more efficient and convenient way, the click of a finger away, it won’t be long before traditional market organizations become redundant in their medium of delivery (not the product itself).

In addition to this, newer technology is more ecologically efficient, and as more people are becoming conscious of their carbon footprint, it may become imperative for traditional market organizations to think of eco- friendly alternatives for the same.

The key people within an organization that need to drive the cultural change within it would be the sales force as well as the research team, as it is these two categories of employees who experience firsthand the changes in the trends outside the company. They will have to thus communicate this to H.R. who will facilitate and smoothen out this cultural change which can become quite difficult for some employees to accept who have become very rigid in their thought and functioning.

Describe the perfect salesperson for the Sarasota Journal. As a sales manager, how would you find and recruit this person and what types of training and development would you provide them?

Ans 6:

The perfect salesperson for Sarasota Journals would be

- Someone who has excellent skills with online advertising sales but at the same time is not completely ignorant with on ground sales.

- He should have started his career with the latter in fact and moved up to online sales which are his forte.

- He should understand the technicalities of how advertising online works.

- He should be relatively young as people generally tend to associate digital technology with a younger generation. This would ensure consistency between the service delivery process and the end result.

- Someone who can take stress considering the fact that this is a very crucial time for Sarasota Journals that will decide its fate.

Recruiting Salespeople:

1. Through Job Employment Agencies & Consultants

2. Through online job portals advertise the openings for salespeople

3. Hire from Business schools as this is where Sarasota Journals can catch them young and brimming with ideas.

4. Hire from the sales force of companies who solely engage in Internet Advertising. Since this sector is booming they come with expertise in the area and the current job offers them a good challenge.

5. Hire through the acquaintances and networks of the existing sales force. This would give the company real recommendations and backing.

6. Identify people in other departments of the company who would fit the job role and do justice to it.

Training & Development:

- The training needs of Sarasota Journal currently would include building the skill sets of their employees to engage successfully in online advertising.

- In addition we also need to identify the kind of people that need training. Basically they include:

a. New Recruits

b. Current employees who have tremendous experience in traditional sales but not online sales.

c. Occasional training programs that retrain the employees on their current skill sets and keep them abreast of newer trends.

- At the end of the training program, the trainees should have the technical knowledge of how online sales works, how extensively it differs from traditional sales, what different kinds of demands it makes, how to convert calls, trend spotting etc.