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Lincoln Financial Group (B)

Lincoln Financial Group (LFG) is a financial service firm that that has a strategic position as the manufacturer of three primary financial products; annuities, insurance, and mutual funds. LFG distributes these financial products through fough comon distribution channels: banks, idependent brokers, wirehouse broker/dealres, and managing general agents. Most of their customers had just one of these products ‘on the shelf. ‘ LFG had to focus more on the customer to maintian an effective role as a distributor of their financial products.

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For this purpose, and for placing more products on the shelf, LFG reorganized its business in order to improve customer intimacy and, in 2000, created Lincoln Financial Distributors (LFD) which was to be responsible for the wholesaling of all of their products. Early success of the transition from a product focused to a customer focused firm were shown in the form of: 1. Tailoring their products to customer needs, and 2. Multiple financial products were sold as a package to customers. In my point of view, LFG’s decision to combine their products under one distribution center was correct and is fully supported by the success signs above.

However, significant changes in the skills of LFG’s salespeople were needed in order to enhance the new firm’s customer intimacy strategy. The changes involved creating a “competency model,” that denotes what LFG wanted their salespeople to be good at, assessed the sales force on different sales competencies, and hired or trained salespeople in order to get where they want to be. The two major advantages of the competency model was that it was good predictor of performance and served as a roadmap for continuous improvement.

One draw back of the model is that it lacks the feedback of the end user of the financial products offered by LFG. To address this issue data would need to collected from the end user regarding the different financial produsts offered in the market. This will provide useful information on the desired products and will also affect the competency bands and the selection of competency measures. Another drawback is that the model does not link between the competencies and the demographics where the financial products are offered.

This is an important aspect that is directly connected with the key competencies that are critical to the success of LFD. Addressing this issue involves collecting demographic data on the different product sales and linking this data to competencies that yield the most sales and highest customer satisfaction. While both recommendations involve a lot of data collection, the second recommendation (linking the competencies with demographics) is easier to implement and will yield more efficient salespeople. It is thus the suggested path to follow.

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