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Executives' perspectives of the changing role of the sales profession: views from France, the United States, and Mexico

John F. Tanner Jr (Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA)
Christophe Fournier (Research Center in Management of Organizations (CR2M), Université Montpellier 2, Institut Universitaire de Technologie, Techniques de Commercialisation, Montpellier, France)
Jorge A. Wise (International Business Department, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico)
Sandrine Hollet (Institute of Research in Management (IRG) – University of Paris 12, Institut Universitaire de Technologie, Techniques de Commercialisation, Créteil, France)
Juliet Poujol (INSEEC Business School, Paris, France)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




This paper aims to present perceptions of sales executives from three countries regarding expectations for the future of the sales profession and sales position.


Results of a thematic interpretation of in‐depth interviews are presented, using several agenda‐setting articles as a foundation.


Executives struggle with how salespeople should add value, especially in today's multi‐channel environment. Greater professionalization is needed in countries where the state of the profession is less developed. Emergent strategy is practiced but not universally. Sales executives generally believe that little incremental value in technology can be gained, though it is apparent that technology is not being fully utilized. Other findings are also discussed.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers should consider classifying sales research by sales strategy rather than industry or country unless those aspects are factors being studied; further, questions such as how do salespeople create value and when is human intervention in the sales process required are offered.

Practical implications

Executives should re‐examine sales technology, particularly in managing and transferring knowledge. Emergent strategy requires processes for identifying and transferring effective adaptation. Sales organizations must develop, at the salesperson level, greater business acumen, to be gained through training, experience or selection.


This study identifies issues and factors that will influence sales practice and should influence sales research into the future. Particularly, the study is the first to highlight the use of emergent strategy, as well as the issue of identifying and creating value.



Tanner, J.F., Fournier, C., Wise, J.A., Hollet, S. and Poujol, J. (2008), "Executives' perspectives of the changing role of the sales profession: views from France, the United States, and Mexico", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 193-202.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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