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A Sales Training Case-Study With Example Answers To Test Your Present Level of Sales Awareness

April 17, 2012

Sales training courses routinely use case studies to support learning and development. Below you will find a case study about a fictitious sales situation between a salesperson and a customer. After you’ve read through the case study jot down the solutions for the 3 questions which have been asked at the conclusion of the case study. These will help you check out your awareness on the best way to address difficult sales situations. You can find some example answers provided at the conclusion of the posting to which you can evaluate your answers.

For some twelve months, Fred Green has been looking to win an order from ABC Ltd but without any success. Just about every 2 months he calls on the business and the purchaser, Sarah Brown, always receives him politely, listens to all his selling arguments very carefully, looks over the papers in the proposal, and then purely repeats that she is content with the performance from the 2 companies who provide her for the moment. At times she adds with a smile: “someday or other these organizations could fall down on the job so you’ll get your opportunity then Fred.”

Fred Green is sadly becoming impatient with this treatment and thinks that he won’t be able to wait forever for an order. He suspects that Sarah is only playing tricky to get, and is not really serious about using his company in the future. He additionally has yet another problem in that his manager, the sales director, wants to see the name of ABC Limited, the major name in the market place, on the list of the organization’s customers. He’s continually asking Fred when they are going to see an order from ABC Ltd. For Fred, ABC Ltd represents a standing challenge.

Just when it appeared that almost everything was lost a chance appeared to come to Fred’s rescue. Fred was a keen tennis player, and as such represented his team side in a local knockout tournament. In the second round of the tounament, he came up against Charles Lister, who was a member of the board of ABC Limited. To the surprise of those that knew how first rate he was, Fred lost the game. A happy Charles Lister invited Fred to join him to get a drink at the club bar right after the match. Fred grabbed his chance with both hands. Over a beer he said to Charles whom he worked for along with the trouble he had experienced in trying to secure ABC’s order. The evening concluded with an agreement to play a return match at Lister’s tennis club, and that Fred ought to take his quotation along with him.

Several days following the return game, Fred obtained a small trial order from ABC Ltd. He was really pleased with this development, and thought that it wouldn’t be very long before he started to receive frequent and bigger orders.

However, when he next turned up at ABC Limited for his standard two monthly meeting with Sarah, she sent a message by way of the receptionist, saying that she was much too busy and had no time for the meeting that day. The next meeting was equally unsuccessful. Sarah simply informed Fred (once again by means of the receptionist) that any quotations or offers really should be set in writing and sent to her through email.

Fred thought that he knew why Sarah was so off-hand with him. He contacted Charles Lister once again and asked him to put in a good word for him with Sarah. Rather to his surprise, Charles refused declaring: “I’ve said to Sarah that the products are actually okay and that she should take you into consideration as a provider as soon as she’s considering placing an order. In excess of that I can’t do for you.”

Now consider the subsequent three test questions. Make a note of your ideas and then compare them with the suggestions about the case study, which you will see below.

1.Was Fred correct in taking advantage of his chance encounter with Charles Lister to push his goods and to try to get a trial order?

2.What can Fred do right away so as to get back in favour with Sarah?

3.Ought Fred shed his relationship with Charles Lister? If yes, how ought this be carried out?

Having read the situation of the by-passed client described above, it might have looked that salesman Fred has dug himself right into a large hole. Even though Fred has got a modest trial order from a potentially big customer, ABC Limited, through a private contact with a director, Charles Lister, at ABC Plc he has upset the buyer, Sarah. Sarah naturally suspects that she has been by-passed and has reacted by preventing all direct contact with Fred. You were posed a few questions regarding the case. These same questions were asked of an experienced coach who offers sales training courses. Listed below are her answers and comments:

1. Was Fred correct in taking advantage of his chance encounter with Charles Lister? In principle, Fred was correct to take advantage of this chance. However, his mistake lay in not telling Sarah, the client, straight away about the chance meeting with Sarah’s manager Charles Lister and explaining the position to her. This could put Sarah in the picture, and Sarah wouldn’t have been left with the feeling that Fred had somehow managed to by-pass her.

2. What can Fred do now to get back in favour with Sarah? Fred has to attempt to arrange a meeting with Sarah to explain the circumstances. He could, for instance, write Sarah an electronic mail inviting her to lunch so that they can talk about what appears to be a possible misunderstanding. In such a dialogue, he should set out what happened, and persuade Sarah that it was not a question of trying to go behind her back, but rather the result of the chance private meeting with Charles.

Fred ought to admit to Sarah that he had not handled the situation very effectively. Fred most certainly made one more mistake in heading back to Charles Lister and asking him to “put a good word in for him”. It would have been significantly better if Fred had asked Charles to clarify to Sarah how the circumstances had arisen and to stress that any choice about placing orders certainly lay with Sarah as the buyer. This might have given Sarah the chance to recover her loss of face, which she certainly felt she had suffered.

3. Should Fred shed his connection with Charles Lister and if so, how?

Fred certainly should keep up contact with Charles, but on a personal basis, rather than at a business level. At first, however, he might have to convince Charles to contact Sarah and describe the background about the situation set out above. Having said that, after this the relationship with Charles has to be kept strictly on a personal level. Without a doubt the next time Fred plays Charles at tennis, he should try and win!

Having looked at the model responses, how did your solutions compare? If you want to develop into a more proficient and professional sales person you could do this by attending frequent sales training courses.

Richard Stone a Company director of Spearhead Training Limited, an organization that runs management and sales training courses aimed at improving business and personal overall performance. You can see additional articles at


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