Arizona State University JP Reynolds Investments Case Study

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Raymond Baker is J.P. Reynolds Investments’ district sales manager for the Southeastern Region (covering Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama). J.P. Reynolds sells a variety of mutual funds and other investment products to financial services companies that are retailer sellers of such products. It generally offers its investment products to small- and medium-sized customers, such as regional banks, as opposed to large financial services companies.

Raymond recently lost his best salesperson and must replace him immediately. This morning he interviewed two job candidates, Dag Wicklo and Katharine Bryant, for the position of sales representative, level II (three to six years of experience), for about 45 minutes each. Dag is 26, tall, athletic, enjoys outdoor activities, is not married, has no children, and is clearly from the South. He came to the interview with very short-cropped hair and a slightly wrinkled suit. He scored slightly below average on the test of general mental aptitude administered by the HR department. Katharine is 36, shorter than average, not athletic, is married to a wealthy financier, has two children, and is originally from New York. She is wearing a very formal black suit and expensive-looking shoes. She scored well on the test of general mental aptitude.

Here are a few excerpts from the respective interviews:

RB:    How would you describe your selling style?

DW:    Ray, I’m a go-getter. I’m young, enthusiastic, and I love selling. I also love money, so I love working with investment products and love the commission-based nature of the business. Most of all I love people, and they respond well to me. By the end of a meeting, I feel like I’m with a friend, and the sale happens so naturally, it doesn’t even feel like selling.

KB:    Mr. Baker, I try to know my product inside and out and present a clear, logical case as to why my customer should purchase it. However, I don’t get down and beg for the sale. If the customer does not want to buy, I simply go to the next prospect. Also, I try to stay as professional as possible and not get too close to the customers.

RB:    What strengths and weaknesses would you bring to this position?

DW:    My number-one strength is that I’m very likable. I speak Spanish, Portuguese, and English, so I can talk to almost anyone. Also, despite my young age, I have five years of sales experience in the investment field and have received high performance evaluations. I’m confident, resilient, and creative. I find a way to solve a problem. Finally, I’m a good presenter and like to speak without any prepared speech or remarks.
My biggest weakness is that I can be less than organized. I sometimes let my creative energy get the better of me, and I’m not always the most professional or polished guy. I get the job done in my own way, I guess. Also, I don’t have much formal college education and don’t understand the technology as well as I would like. I’m sure I can learn it, though.

KB:    I take command of a room or a situation well and don’t let anyone intimidate me. I have a master’s degree in art history and have the intelligence to handle myself well and understand the products. Also, I am extremely organized. If you asked them, my children can verify what a tight ship I run at home. Although I do not have sales experience in selling investment products, my husband is an investment banker, as was my father, so I can speak the language.

My main weakness is that I have only two years of sales experience, but I have owned and managed my own business before. Also, I don’t need the money, so I’m not as aggressive as some of these young bucks in terms of sales volume. However, I feel that I can relate well to the customer and will understand them better because of my other business experience.

Joanna Baer, the vice president of sales and Raymond’s immediate boss, just interviewed each applicant this afternoon and has called Raymond into her office to discuss the situation.

Because of the pressing need, the company needs to make an offer to one of the two candidates. Raymond knows he must evaluate the applicants quickly and make a recommendation to Joanna.


1.    What categories of variables affecting performance can you identify?
2.    Within each category, which variables do you think are relevant to a salesperson’s performance at J.P. Reynolds? Why?

3.    If you were Raymond, which applicant would you recommend to Joanna to hire? Why?

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