SHIELD FINANCIAL “A SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT”
It’s been 18 months since he took over the Des Moines ofﬁce, and Doug Bloom is ﬁnally feeling like he as the job under control. His ofﬁce has exceeded its sales quotas for each of the last ﬁve quarters and proﬁts are improving. He also felt as if he understood himself better and had grown as an individual. At dinner the other night, he mentioned to his wife, “You know, as you get involved in this job, your personality changes. Some managers become very people-directed and others are more sales- and customer-directed. I doubt that you ﬁnd many people who are perfectly balanced on these dimensions. I think I’ m leaning toward the people side now, which surprises me. I always loved the customer contact so much when I was selling.”
The next day at work he received a call from Vinny Raccioppi, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Shield, informing him that as part of his management development he was given a special assignment. Vinny would like to meet with him in New York the following week to discuss this assignment.
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In New York, Doug is informed that his special assignment is to plan for the phasing out of independent insurance brokers in the mountain states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Shield intended to hire full-time salespeople to cover these areas. Among other reasons for the change, the population in these states is growing and the company feels that it can get better penetration of the market with its own dedicated sales force. Vinny also mentions that he believes the sales agents have grown “older and wealthier” and are losing the “energy and drive” of earlier years.
Shield currently has two regional sales managers who supervise the brokers in these states. These regional managers are responsible for recruiting high-quality brokers, working with them to ensure that they understand and know how to sell Shield’ s products, and producing the sales volumes quotas in these areas. The sales manager will need their help to put together an in-house sales force and undertake damage control when the sales agents are informed of the new organization.
Doug’ s reaction is one of surprise, followed by a realization of the magnitude of the undertaking. One of Doug’s immediate concerns was controlling the damage to customer relationships that may arise when the brokers are told of the new sales organization. Vinny informs Doug that he has two months to complete a plan for starting the new sales force. Doug says that he had better begin right away and suggests that he meet with the two regional sales managers.
The following week, Doug arranges a meeting with the two regional sales managers. Doug informs them of the impending change in organization and the necessity of developing a thorough and thoughtful plan of action. After expressing their surprise, the regional sales managers mention their concern with agents’ reactions. They both indicate that there is no way this plan can be kept a secret until it is implemented and that the brokers are likely to be angry about losing the 20 percent commissions they have become used to receiving. During this discussion, possible retaliatory actions by the brokers are discussed. At the conclusion of the meeting, the vice president suggests that they all think about how to “ease out” the 34 agents without suffering undue economic recriminations. They agree to get back together for a meeting the next week to discuss alternative plans.
1. How would you advise Doug to conduct the meeting with the two regional sales managers?
2. How would you attempt to control the potential economic damage that may occur when switching from brokers to your own sales force?
3. What would you suggest doing if one of the brokers asked you whether it was true that shield was going to release all its brokers and switch to a dedicated sales force?
4. What issues would you have to address in starting your own sales force?