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The yin and yang of introducing a sales culture: the Amalgam Bank Case

Bruce Fortado (Department of Management, Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Paul A. Fadil (Department of Management, Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 14 October 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore the introduction of a “sales culture” at one of the ten largest US banks. Identifying and analyzing the existing human relations problems should enable constructive competitive improvements to be made in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

The major findings of our interviews with tellers and customer service representatives are compared to how the managers presented the sales culture, as well as the relevant cultural literature. The metaphor of the yin and the yang will be used to shed light on the tense and fluctuating interconnection of certain phenomenon.

Findings

Amalgam Bank’s sales did increase, but unanticipated problems also surfaced. The new sales duties slowed service and irritated customers. The teller referral quota proved unrealistic. The sales incentive point system provided little motivation. The negative tended to be stressed in sales meetings. When employees raised concerns, their managers replied with silencing behaviors. Further, there were double standards, lessened career opportunities and some inconsistent managerial practices. Increased turnover and resistance ensued. Addressing these problems should bring the parties’ interests into better balance and produce a more stable and competitive culture.

Research limitations/implications

Doing a comparative analysis can confirm what aspects of the sales culture literature are relevant and where inductive modifications might be called for. Consideration needs to be given to what results might be due to a poor managerial implementation, and what results can be attributed to the conflicting aspects of the original service-oriented culture and the new sales culture. More fieldwork needs to be done to provide confirmation for these findings and expand upon them.

Practical implications

Both theory and practice could be improved by integrating material from anthropology, sociology, human relations, organization culture and marketing.

Social implications

This paper focused on the social issue of culture change. Utilizing competitiveness as an outcome variable, the social implications of this study are tremendous.

Originality/value

This study goes back to the roots of the Human Relations movement: fieldwork. In an era where most scholars hand out surveys and analyze corresponding numbers, the current authors actually went out in the field and meticulously interviewed the subjects. This increased the quality and depth of the survey, while providing a true barometer of the reaction to the proposed culture change. Although this method of study is not original, it is hardly ever done anymore in a “survey-driven” research environment. This fieldwork methodology is one of the most important contributions of this paper.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Adel El-Ansary, Josh Samli, Darren McCabe, Arjo Laukia, Sylwia Ciuk and several anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. They also owe a debt of gratitude to David G. Moore (deceased) who gave us the idea of doing this project and shared with us what he knew about Industrial Anthropology and Sociology, Human Relations and Organization Culture. An earlier version of this paper entitled “Adding Telling to Selling: The Amalgam Bank Case” was presented by Bruce Fortado in Sub-theme 40: Organizational Transformation: Power, Resistance and Identity, 27th EGOS Colloquium, Reassembling Organizations, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 7-9, 2011.

Citation

Fortado, B. and A. Fadil, P. (2014), "The yin and yang of introducing a sales culture: the Amalgam Bank Case", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 444-462. https://doi.org/10.1108/CR-10-2013-0079

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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