Spoiled for Choice: Answers

Recap: After Alyce Shultz, VP of sales and marketing at Sterling Worldwide, gave her notice, Sterling President Darnell Forman listed his priorities: customer focus, balancing short- and long-term goals, profitable growth, and collaboration between sales and marketing.

Then he listed the strengths of his two frontrunners: Janet Black, director of marketing planning and analysis, who insists that data inform everything from creative to segmentation, and whose oversight has helped increase marketing effectiveness; and Grace Sanders, key accounts sales director, who’s a pro at building and nurturing long-term customer relationships, and has helped increase the wallet share of the company’s largest accounts. Now he has to make a choice.

Click here to read the complete challenge.

December winner: Varyssia J. Bell, general clerk, mailing requirements, United States Postal Service

The right person to select for VP of sales and marketing is Sanders. She meets all of the position priorities that Forman listed.

  • Takes a customer-focused approach to business. She’s a professional at building and nurturing long-term customer relationships.
  • Balances short- and long-term revenue goals. She’s led several of the company’s largest accounts for five years and has increased wallet share.
  • Fosters profitable growth. She’s currently director of key accounts sales.
  • Encourages strong collaboration between sales and marketing. She fosters collaboration inside the company to best serve clients. Black would not be problematic working together with the other candidate because she’s a team player and supports colleagues across the marketing organization. The data her marketing division provides will be essential to increasing the overall effectiveness of customer service and corporate growth.

Other responses

Darrell Edwards, VP of marketing, Mspark

My suggestion would be that while relationship building is a great skill, relationships come and go in life, as do the people with whom you’ve built them. They leave to open bakeries, change companies, and change roles internally. Some remain good personal friends, but can no longer help you and your company grow. Data and results withstand changes in management and strained relationships. Consequently, Forman should choose Black. Salespeople ultimately get it done, but absent strategy there’s a lot of energy wasted and resources consumed chasing things that won’t improve the bottom line.

Lawrence A. Tillinger, proprietor, SFLI

Forman shouldn’t choose either of the frontrunners. He should engage an executive recruitment consultancy to find a VP of sales and marketing from outside Sterling. Additionally, Forman should establish two new positions, VP of sales and VP of marketing, each reporting to the VP of sales and marketing, who reports to him. He should promote Black to VP of marketing because of her background in marketing. And, he should promote Sanders to VP of sales because of her background in sales. Then he should require weekly, formal meetings between the two, together with informal meetings at any time appropriate, to coordinate sales and marketing activities, as well as to fulfill his business priorities.

Linda Neumann, CEO, Brilliant Marketing Ideas Inc.

Darnell Forman should choose Sanders. Since his priorities are more in line with Sanders’ skills, she’d be the best candidate to help him reach his objectives.

A customer-focused approach to business, being a priority, is perfect for their key account sales director. She’s a pro at developing customer relationships. She has to be customer focused to generate the additional revenue she’s bringing in. Her ability to build her internal resources to meet the needs of her customers to deliver on promises has made her a candidate for this job. Forman’s other goals include growth and collaboration, the skills for which Sanders also possesses.

Black has done marketing planning and analysis, and hasn’t really been on the front line with customers. She’s primarily data driven and Sanders is customer driven. Forman should explain to Black the reasons behind his choice and how she’s needed to work with Sanders as the new manager

David Mantica, general manager, ASPE Inc.

The complexities of technologies that drive marketing and sales have increased significantly within the past 10 years. Similar technology advancements enable customers to dictate—even bypass—the typical sales process. The reality is, Shultz was forced to coach and mentor two terrific people because it’s increasingly difficult to provide the vision and direction for both sales and marketing in today’s business environment.

The best decision for Forman is to split the position in half, creating a new VP of marketing position for Black and a VP of sales position for Sanders. Both positions should report to him for at least six months. Additionally, he should meet with both VPs together twice a month to ensure collaboration and communication. Last, Forman should develop a compensation plan for each VP that is in complete alignment to ensure that neither of them has an incentive to build walls around their half of the old position.

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