Although experts agree on the importance of service quality, sales force management practices are often far from conforming to their recommendations. The current use of sales contests with quantitative objectives on turnover or profit margin is evidence of this divergence. Sharma notes the need for a better understanding of the impact of such incentives on quality of service. In response to this call, the concept of “service climate” as an internal indicator of customer perception of service quality is studied. More specifically, the purpose of this paper is to consider which type of sales contest best preserves service climate.
Four characteristics of sales contests are examined through an experimental approach. Salespeople's perception of service climate are measured. Hypotheses are tested with ANOVA.
The study shows that sales contest can have a negative impact on the service climate. The results give indications as to which incentives are optimal in terms of service climate. Surprisingly, selective contests, with a ranked competition and few winners, would affect service climate to a lesser extent.
The findings of this study are unexpected and indicate that sales managers need to pay attention not only to sales contest's characteristics but also their interaction. The sales contest is not an addition to but a combination of modalities.
This study has both managerial and research implications for design and implementation of sales contest.
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