Kramer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was a major manufacturer of prescription drugs for the medical and dental professions. It had a sales force of over 500 detailers, whose primary responsibility was calling regularly on hospital personnel, doctors, and dentists to describe the product line and to persuade these medical personnel to use and prescribe Kramer drugs. After having worked at Kramer for 12 years, Bob Marsh, a detailer of the company, was fired for unsatisfactory performance, poor attitude, and reluctance to improve. Marsh's abrupt termination of the services stunned some of his clients, who regarded him as an outstanding detailer. A number of doctors, physicians, and pharmacists strongly expressed to Kramer's executives and local managers their surprise, disbelief, and perplexity over Marsh's dismissal. Such extremely rare reactions from customers over a detailer's dismissal triggered a review of Kramer's practices in sales force management.
Based on the case description, I identified a few issues in Marsh's case: 1.
Overlook subordinate's strengths and be overcritical about his weaknesses 2.
Offer subordinate too many suggestions too quickly
Unable to embrace changes and adapt to boss's preferences 4.
Ineffective in solving conflicts with boss
Overlook subordinate's strengths and be overcritical about his weaknesses The ways that Marsh's supervisors dealt with his strengths and weaknesses as a detailer were very different. The first two supervisors, John Meredith and Bill Couch, had a balanced view on Marsh's strengths and weaknesses. In particular, they appreciated Marsh's outstanding reception in physician offices and drug stores while recognizing his bad work habits, including the lack of organization, follow-up, and planning, seemed obvious to the majority of his supervisors. But since Jim Rathbun arrived on the scene, the following supervisors seemed hardly tolerate Marsh's weaknesses. For example, Rathbun announced that the disorder in marsh's detail bag and automobile was deplorable. On the other hand, they largely ignored Marsh's good rapport with clients. The unbalanced views held by the later supervisors had significantly negative impact on Marsh's job interest and self-confidence. Marsh's failure could, to a great extent, be attributed to the supervisors' overlook on his strengths and being overcritical about his weaknesses. Based on what were covered in class, two choices can be used to solve this issue: Alternative 1: Build on strengths and ignore weaknesses
The ways in which Marsh's supervisor treated his strengths and weaknesses were in strong contrast. Marsh seemed to make steady progress in improving his sales performance when the supervisors held a balanced view toward his bad work habits. His self-confidence and work enthusiasm were greatly eroded by the other supervisors who were overcritical about his weaknesses in organization, planning, and adjustment to new directives. Alternative 2: Resist labeling people
There were many changes in management in Marsh's district. Every new district manager had read about Marsh's complete file and become familiar with past obstacles to his development. It went to the extent that Marsh's last supervisor, Ted Franklin, seemed to be preoccupied by Marsh's sizable personal history folder before his first meeting with Marsh. While a subordinate's file may provide some insights into his or her development in the firm, it may also cause premature closure regarding the seriousness of the subordinate's weaknesses. Instead of labeling Marsh with his obvious bad work habits, a new supervisor may look at instances where Marsh did show quality work. I would like to recommend alternative 1 as the solution to this issue. The ultimate goal of a detailer (sales person) is to sell as many products as possible by serving customers well. One of Marsh's apparent strengths is his excellent rapport with the customers in his territory. As...
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