Reality in Selling Case Study: Selling New Products at Steelcase

Read the Reality Selling Case Study details at the end of Chapter 7 in the text and the Selling In Action (Effective Sales Letter Writing is a must) details in Chapter 6. Prepare a sales letter to your buyer at DeVry University that meets the criteria noted in the Selling In Action. In your sales letter, you should address the features, advantages, and benefits of the Personal Harbor Workspaces and Think Chairs created by Steelcase. Be mindful of your objective for the sales letter, which is to gain the buyer’s attention and gain the first meeting. For this assignment, you will not use the Case Study Guidelines in Doc Sharing. Your assignment will be in the form of an official sales letter. A sample format for a sales letter that uses letterhead is provided in your textbook Appendix 3, the Letter of Reference from The Principle Company.


Formatting for the Case Study assignment will follow the Effective Sales Letter Writing details noted in Chapter 6. Your sales letter should contain the following, in order.

Letterhead or Sender’s Address


Address of your Buyer


Body of the Letter

Complimentary Close

Typed Name and Handwritten Signature of the Sender

Notation of Enclosures (if any)

For this assignment, typing your name and adding a typed written font similar to a signature is acceptable. Otherwise, you can digitally sign your letter or physically sign it and upload the scanned copy. A sample format for a sales letter that uses letterhead is provided in your textbook Appendix 3, the Letter of Reference from The Principle Company.


You are a sales representative for SteelCase. You are part of the advance sales team responsible for selling your firm’s line of the newest innovations, including the Think Chair and the Personal Harbor Workspace. Read the Reality Selling Case Study in Chapter 7 to gain some insights regarding your team and the products you represent. You and your team have already successfully secured a purchase from the local hospital. As a recent DeVry University graduate and Esteemed Alum, you feel that the Personal Harbor Workspace would be of value to the various DeVry Group campuses.

Your assignment is to write an effective sales letter to your instructor, who is the senior purchasing agent for DeVry Group. The goal of your letter is to get your instructor’s attention and create the desire to meet with you. The primary objective is to gain a face-to-face or phone meeting to begin building rapport and needs discovery. Assume that you have never visited one of the physical campuses yet; however, you understand how the academic environment is set up. You also know that the DeVry Group is very student-centric and focuses most of the resources to meet the needs of the students.

Review the Case Study details in Chapter 7 to gain details on the features of the Personal Harbor Workspace. You may need to do some additional pre-planning research on your prospective customer in order to determine what benefits the buyer may be looking for. In your sales letter, you should address the features, advantages, and benefits of the Personal Harbor Workspaces and Think Chairs created by Steelcase; however, these must be things that would be of interest or importance to the buyer. For example, if the chair comes in different colors, but you do not think the buyer would see a benefit in this, then you would not mention it in the letter.

You have a limit of one-page for this letter and you must complete your objective. This means you need to choose your words carefully; be clear, complete, and succinct. Remember, you are not selling the product at this time. You are simply introducing the idea and seeking an in-person or phone meeting. You must use one-inch margins, single-space, and proper spaces between elements of the letter. You will include any enclosures you wish as attachments to the letter. Enclosures do not count against your one-page limit for the letter. We will NOT have a work cited page for the letter as all content should be your own original work. Enclosures, if not original, should have correct APA citations included on them.

Reality Selling Case Problem: Selling New Products at Steelcase

Many of the most profitable companies have discovered that there are “riches in market niches.” They have developed products and services that meet the needs of a well-defined or newly created market. Steelcase Incorporated, a leading source of information and expertise on work effectiveness, has been working hard to develop products that meet the needs of people who do most of their work in an office environment. The company’s motto is “the office environment company.” One of its newest products is the “Think” chair. Steelcase also developed the Personal Harbor Workspaces, a self-contained, fully equipped, and totally private podlike workstation. Steelcase sales literature describes the product as ideal for companies that are tired of waiting for the future:

They were developed to support the individual within a highly collaborative team environment, and they work best when clustered around common work areas equipped with mobile tables, carts, benches, screens, and other Steelcase Activity Products. These “commons” are meant to be flexible spaces that enhance communication and facilitate interaction.

Steelcase realized that selling this advanced product would not be easy, so a decision was made to develop an advanced sales team to presell the Personal Harbor before its major introduction. Once the team started making sales calls, it became evident that a traditional product-oriented sales presentation would not work. The Personal Harbor was a departure from conventional office design, so many customers were perplexed. Sue Sacks, a team member, said, “People acted like we had fallen from Mars.” Team members soon realized that, to explain the features and benefits of the product, they had to begin studying new organizational developments such as team-oriented workforces and corporate reengineering. The advanced sales team was renamed the “advanced solutions team.” Sales calls put more emphasis on learning about the customers’ problems and identification of possible solutions. Members of the team viewed themselves as consultants who were in a position to discuss solutions to complex business problems.

The consultative approach soon began to pay off in sales. One customer, a hospital, was preparing to build a new office building and needed workstations for 400 employees. The hospital had formed a committee to make decisions concerning the purchase of office equipment. After an initial meeting between the Steelcase sales team and the hospital committee, a visit to Steelcase headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was arranged. The hospital committee members were able to tour the plant and meet with selected Steelcase experts. With knowledge of the hospital’s goals and directions, Sue Sacks was able to arrange meetings with Steelcase technical personnel who could answer specific questions. The hospital ultimately placed an order worth more than a million dollars

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