Land Escape Vacation Club sells fractional interests in time-share vacation properties at various beach locations. For example, an owner will purchase an interest of four weeks a year at a Land Escape property in a place like Hilton Head, South Carolina. Prospective buyers are offered a free weekend stay at a Land Escape resort if they listen to a sales presentation while they are there.
Sales at the La Jolla, California, location have been inconsistent over the past two years, and the sales manager, Denise London, has been asked by Land Escape’s vice president of sales to review the profiles of her three salespeople in order to come up with a plan to improve sales.
Catalina is a woman in her 30s with a husband and two small children at home. She was once a television weather forecaster (she would say “meteorologist”) but got fired and was forced to do something else. She thought that working in sales would be for the short term until another television opportunity came about, but she has now been in Land Escape sales for about three years. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, she was very enthusiastic when she first began selling, but her enthusiasm and energy level have been waning as she has realized that she will probably continue doing sales for the long term. She and her husband feel some financial pressure because of their decision to put their children in private school, which is very costly. The economy has been difficult, and Catalina is beginning to believe she cannot succeed no matter what she does.
She is somewhat insecure and sensitive but conscientious and a team player. She likes people and seeks personal relationships with customers and takes a long-term approach. Her philosophy is “if potential customers don’t want to buy right away, I don’t pressure them. I will keep in contact with them and eventually they will come back and buy.” Denise does not care for Catalina’s style and tends to let her operate without supervision, because, frankly, she doesn’t know what to tell her to do better.
Zach is 25 years old, just two years out of college. He has been with Land Escape for approximately eight months now. He is a perfectionist and highly competitive. Before he came to Land Escape, he had no previous sales experience, but he does have a natural selling skill. He is a little bit of a loose cannon and is not afraid to bend or even break the rules. Needless to say, he is not the least bit self-conscious. Some find him friendly and like his engaging style; however, some are turned off by it and see him as a stereotypical “slick” salesperson.
His goal is to make as much money as possible in a short amount of time. He will decide later whether he wants to stay in sales for the long term; right now he just wants to be young and have fun. He is favored by the sales manager, Denise, who sees him as a potential star because of his early success. As a result, she gives him closer supervision and guidance.
John is the dean of the group at age 53. He has been in Land Escape sales since its inception 12 years ago and was in sales for ten years before that time. He is good at what he does. He says, “I’ve pretty much mastered the art of time-share selling, and I’m cruising along. I know exactly how much effort to make to get the sale, so why should I do any more than that?”
His art-collecting hobby now interests him more than selling, and he has no desire to be promoted to sales manager or move to a different location. John is somewhat resentful that he has a female manager who has less experience than he does and has made it known that he needs no supervision from her. He does well enough that Denise complies and just lets him sell without a close watch.
Denise knows she needs to make some changes, but is not sure what to do. She feels the current compensation plan of 70 percent commission and 30 percent salary is fairly generous, and she even runs the occasional sales contest to boost numbers during the slower months. She had better think of something quickly before the VP gives her a “permanent vacation.”
- In what career stage would you place each of the three salespeople?
- If you were the sales manager, how would you motivate each salesperson? Explain your recommendations.
- What measures might you use to motivate them as a group?