Twenty three year old Austin Coleman1, Sales Executive at MarketSleuth, sat at his desk, staring
blankly at the wall. It was August 8, 2013 and he had still not generated a lead, hot or warm
enough, for his company as directed by his boss and Project Manager Marketing Taylor Bernard.
He looked intently at his wrist watch which showed 11:30 A.M, two hours before he had to
present his entire findings before Bernard.
Austin was devastated. He did not know what to do. He did not want another heated reminder
from his boss. He was no more in his good books anyway and was desperate to prove his mettle.
But something, somewhere, was not going in his favor. He was dwindling in the single pitches
and had no clue as to how he could have turned the scenario upside down.
MarketSleuth was a marketing research firm incepted in the year 1993. It focused on disguising
its market research to extract unbiased responses from the specified demography, based on which
the clients could revamp their product and/or strategy. With its headquarters in Florida,
MarketSleuth had spread across various nationalities and had developed a strong foothold in the
market. (Exhibit 1 and 2)2
The organization is headed by founder and (now) director Sir Chris Hemsworth who believed in
high levels of decentralization which he believed was the gateway to success because it
unleashed creativity which is crucial to their market research process initiation.
Since ’93, they have covered more than a million market research projects resulting in many
In the field of market research, identification of prospective clients (leads), maintaining client
relationships and other such processes because of the high number of repeat clients. Hence, they
1 The name of the company and the employees has been kept confidential for
2 Acquired from company’s fourth quarter annual report
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provide excellent training to their new employees. The training period lasts for around two
months after which the employee turned trainees hit the turf.
Job Description (Exhibit 3) describes the skills required and the responsibilities that would have
to be addressed by the employees given a particular project.
Austin was born in Texas in 19913. After completing a diploma in Bachelor of Business
Administration from the University of Texas, he moved on and decided to finish his Master of
Business Administration degree in Marketing from the Stanford University. He could afford
these universities because he was a wonderful academician and had secured scholarships in both
colleges. After a lot of headhunting, Austin decided to join MarketSleuth.
Austin’s family was monetarily dependent on him as there was no other source of earning. His
family had survived many a crisis in their past so getting a job at a reputed firm was an
opportunity that he believed could change his career path altogether.
Austin’s mother, Rita Coleman, was suffering from muscle function loss (paralysis)4 and had
been in bed for about 6 years now (Previously, she had been active social worker and was
associated with the Red Cross Society and had pursued many a endeavor in this filed.) This only
added to their financial misery but now that he had a decent paycheck in his hand, he could very
easily get her admitted in a better healthcare hospital. This was unaffordable with his father’s
3 The information was gathered after a brief interview with Austin over telephone
and internet during the preparation of the case and similarly for Mr. Taylor Bernard.
There, however, is no official record of his birthdate.
4 Collect more information about muscle function loss from
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Austin also had an elder brother, Ashton Coleman. He was working in India for a manufacturing
company which was setting up one of its manufacturing plants in India. His brother had left
home pretty early and had started earning at a very early age of 17. He had always considered
Ashton as a bounty-less source of inspiration and had always tried to fit in his shoes. Ashton had
always been protective of Austin and had led the decisions of the house as his father was mostly
It was during these days that Ashton’s upbringing was instilled in Austin. He, too, saw himself
working as a decision maker at a smaller or larger level and that inspired his degree.
Austin was five years old when he was officially adopted by the Coleman family. There were no
records his birth. Rita Coleman had found Austin sleeping outside San Pedro Catholic Church in
North Port, Florida. She was on one of her projects assigned to her by the Red-Cross society. She
immediately got him home instead of taking him to an orphanage and treated him as her second
son ever since, a fact which Austin was always conscious of.
Taylor Bernard was there in MarketSleuth for about seven years now. He previously worked as a
project manager for N&N Nachos. Taylor’s family had its roots originating from Dallas but he
was nothing like a cowboy. Rather, Taylor liked everything to be done as per order and he
wouldn’t budge an inch form the rules and regulations which are set in the book.
He was an authoritarian. He commanded respect and had been a pioneer to the company as he
helped meeting out the deliverables of many crucial projects for the company. He had a plethora
of awards (Exhibit 4) on his name and has helped in pioneering many firsts in line with
company’s field of work. They adorned his table beautifully. People have observed him as
someone who is all work and no play.5
5 As informed by one his colleagues at MarketSleuth and N&N Nachos.
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Taylor was extremely pleased with Austin’s caliber as had been one his recruiters during their
process. He was thoroughly impressed by his academic track record and thought very highly of
Austin. He was also impressed by Austin’s background and his struggles that he had to overcome
in the course of time.
However, it all changed when Austin kept falling short on his targets. Following is an organized
fragment from one of Taylor’s diaries about his chronology of tasks with Austin.
June 1, 2013: Assignment of territory and a list of prospective clientele to all the Sales
Executives. (17 prospective clients allotted)
June 8, 2013: First update meeting regarding the list of clients allotted to Austin.
(No positive updates, mostly dead calls)
June 15, 2013: Second update meeting with Austin regarding lead generation of prospective
clients. (No updates yet)
June 22, 2013: Third update meeting regarding the information on prospective closures of
clients for sales. (Two calls converted, rest is in the pipe)
June 29, 2013: EOM meeting with Austin, dismal performance, only two converted out of 17.
July 1, 2013: Revamping the previously allotted list to all the Sales Executives. (Reductions, on
an average of 4, were made from the list of prospective clients)
July 8, 2013: First update meeting regarding the list of clients allotted to Austin.
(4 converted clients, rest are warm calls)
July 15, 2013: Second update meeting with Austin regarding lead generation of prospective
clients. (7 converted clients, significant improvement shown in effort)
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July 22, 2013: Third update meeting regarding the information on prospective closures of
clients for sales. (None converted, rest leads are dead)
July 29, 2013: EOM meeting with Austin, dismal performance, 11 converted out of 13.
Austin’s turnaround in the last days of the month had severely miffed Taylor. He had already
blasted on Austin once on July 23, 2013. That day, Austin felt very sorry and apologetic for his
behavior and was dead set on setting his image right. Following is a dialogue between the both. 6
Taylor: “What happened Austin? You were going pretty well on those targets, how did you
manage to lose the clients?”
Austin: “I am sorry for what has happened Sir, I had some urgent commitments that had to be
met at the very last moment”
Taylor: “This is not what is expected of someone as credible as you. Nevertheless, see you on
29th for your final update, come with better leads”
After his dismal update, Taylor called Austin to his room on July 30, 2013 for yet another dose.
But it was pretty much evident that Austin was only physically present in his office and his mind
was wandering somewhere else.
Taylor: “What is wrong with you? Those targets were set for completion and not annihilation.
This is the second consecutive month that you have failed to meet your targets.”
Austin: “Hmm…yes…what? What, sir? I couldn’t catch you there.”
Taylor: “Are you listening to me? If this goes on, we might have to reconsider your position as a
sales executive in this company Austin.”
6 This was noted during the interview with Austin and was cross-verified with Taylor
as well for their credibility.
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Austin: “That won’t be necessary Sir. I…umm…I will be a lot better than this month; I have a
few warm calls and will aggressively go about my targets starting August 1.”
Taylor: “I have no time for your explanations, show me the clients. I have a meeting right now,
come and collect your deliverable on August 1.”
On the other side:
It was June 3, 2013 that Austin’s mother had a paralysis attack. This came as a shock to the
family and everything in Austin’s life had jilted to nothing. He was extremely disturbed and
distracted with the events of the situation.
Being the man of the house, he had to take care of the proceedings of the situation as his brother
was in India and his father was too old to take care of himself. Doctor had asked one of his
family members to stay back and look after the patient. Austin had to volunteer every night for
around a fortnight which heavily affected his performance at the office.
Prioritizing his family, he took ample care and Rita got discharged on June 18, 2013. With only
around 12 days at hand and with many unattended clients, Austin thought it was better to give his
task a break and took a seven days leave from the office starting on June 8.
The first month was lost pretty easily and he was also hit by the fact that the targets were
untouched. He was prepared was a bashing form Taylor but decided to not give an excuse and
rather stayed mum.
After resuming work, he, aggressively, attacked his prospective clients and converted a lot of
calls. Things were going all hunky dory for Austin but it was set to change otherwise.
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It was July 22, 2013, when Austin got another call from his father informing him about yet
another paralysis attack on Rita. He was en-route a client from downtown which was likely place
a repeat service order for the firm.
It was crucial call for Austin as he had already missed out plenty calls and clients. But again, he
thought it would be better to first check on his family and he eventually lost the client. Although
directed by Taylor that he had to finish this call up as soon as possible, he was caught up in
getting her mother to the hospital.
The situation was rather critical and she needed fulltime care and also someone to look after her.
Austin volunteered again and this heavily affected his lead generation as the month end was
He was pretty aware as to what he was doing to his targets. He also thought that speaking with
Taylor would be of no use because Taylor likes getting things done to the fullest and might not
consider his explanations.
Situation got intense, when on July 28; Rita was transferred to the ICU ward of the hospital
given her critical condition. This really took Austin off guard. He was clueless as to whom he
should approach to next. There was no balance in his personal life and professional life. He could
never pay attention to what directives were being given to him by his superiors at the workplace.
Amidst all the agony of handling his personal life, he was deeply concerned about his
devastating professional life. He knew how critical it was for him to restore his calm because of
his economic responsibility towards his family. With no one else to look after her mother, he had
no option but to take the charge.
On the other hand, his mental, and at times physical, absence from the workplace had
tremendous amount of workload for him. He was in mental torment. He had no clue as to how to
proceed from here and whether he should take this issue in the office or not. Austin Coleman was
at his wits end.
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10 | P a g e
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19 its competitors only within Florida.
7 Market Share of 20
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(as updated on 12-08-12)
JOB TITLE: Sales & Marketing Intern
Employee will be responsible for the day-to-day activities of the sales and marketing team while
learning valuable skills related to sales and marketing for a high tech company.
The Team Member will be exposed to sales and marketing:
• Strategy development
• demand generation
• Campaign design and execution
• Assist with designing and executing sales and marketing campaigns specifically
surrounding each service line
• Research the Internet for new leads and develop prospect lists
• Maintain and update business contact information via the customer relationship management
(“CRM”) system, salesforce.com
8 As collected from the job description sent to Austin. These were key roles and
responsibilities as offered by the company.
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• Develop, write and edit collateral, including sales proposals, website postings, email
newsletters, and press releases
• Assist with developing trade media and PR plans
1. He incepted the research in different formats across the states.
2. He proposed the idea of tailor fitting the research according to the demographic location
so as to increase the productivity of the research.
1. “Apprentice of the Year” consecutively for the years 2001 and 2002 for his dead set
commitment towards the company.
2. Prestigious “Sloan Awards for innovation” during the year 2009 for providing the
company with different formats for conducting the research.
3. Have been recognized for their outstanding achievements and quality of care at a special
awards ceremony held by The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT).
9 The inceptions and awards are taken after interviewing Taylor Bernard and his
fellow colleagues at N&N Nachos and MarketSleuth respectively over a period of one