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A new perspective on sales outcome controls: an inside sales perspective

Richard Conde (University of Houston Downtown, Houston, Texas, USA)
Victor Prybutok (Department of Information Technology and Decision Science, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Kenneth Thompson (University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 27 July 2021

Issue publication date: 6 October 2021




Previous sales control research has limited the definition of outcome controls exclusively to sales outcomes in an outside sales context. In addition to sales outcome controls, inside sales managers use phone operational outcomes to influence inside sales agent performance, supporting the need to expand the broader definition of outcome controls. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to explore the need to bifurcate outcome controls into two distinct variables: sales and phone operational controls. Researchers know little about the application of sales outcome controls beyond sales-only outcomes, which, in turn, limits the definition of outcome controls.


Through the utilization of survey, secondary operational data and sales manager’s feedback, this paper demonstrates that the definition of outcome controls needs to be divided into two distinct areas, sales and phone operational controls for inside sales agents, which, in turn, acts collectively to impact an inside sales agent’s job performance and satisfaction.


This research demonstrates that inside sales managers depend on both sales and phone operational outcome controls to drive sales agent performance, varying in degrees by industry. Even as inside sales managers focus on creating an employee-centric autonomous motivational work culture, the overarching controlling factors associated with phone operational outcomes dampen an inside sales agent’s performance and job satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, as the first sales control research to examine an inside sales context, this study provides support to further study sales controls in an inside sales context. This research can be enhanced by examining business-to-consumer inside sales environments, behavior controls, greater sample size and additional work outcomes such as turnover and tenure.

Practical implications

The findings have important implications because they can help practitioners understand the effect that both sales and phone operational outcomes have on sales agent performance. It also illuminates the need for inside sales managers to be less controlling in their focus on phone operational outcomes, as such a practice has a negative influence on key sales agent job outcomes.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to triangulate multiple data sources to illustrate the need to evaluate both sales and phone operational outcomes as broader components of sales outcome controls. The study of sales controls in a different sales context suggests that sales management controls may differ by sales context, opening the door to extend the vast sales control literature beyond its current context of outside sales.



Conde, R., Prybutok, V. and Thompson, K. (2021), "A new perspective on sales outcome controls: an inside sales perspective", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 10, pp. 2674-2699.



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