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The changing role of sales: viewing sales as a strategic, cross‐functional process

Kaj Storbacka (Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
Lynette Ryals (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK)
Iain A. Davies (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, UK)
Suvi Nenonen (Hanken Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 24 July 2009




Although there is substantial practitioner evidence for changes in the role and functioning of sales in the twenty‐first century, there is little academic research charting new directions for the sales function in a business‐to‐business context. This paper aims to report on four case studies that illustrate how sales is changing.


The case studies involve large global companies who were changing their existing sales process to adapt to changing circumstances. The organizations comprised four global industries: construction, power solutions, building technology, and electronics and software.


The results demonstrate that sales is changing in three interrelated aspects: from a function to a process; from an isolated activity to an integrated one; and is becoming strategic rather than operational.


The results suggest that changes in the role of sales will affect sales processes and the way that the sales function liaises with other departments.



Storbacka, K., Ryals, L., Davies, I.A. and Nenonen, S. (2009), "The changing role of sales: viewing sales as a strategic, cross‐functional process", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 43 No. 7/8, pp. 890-906.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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