The purpose of this paper is to extend the discussion about customer portfolios beyond simple identification of models and how they can be used for balanced resource allocation to a discussion about how portfolios should take into account views from relationship partners and how they should be aligned in internal as well as a relational context.
The portfolio literature is reviewed (most recent, seminal, IMP related) and considered in the context of both the sales organization and the customers involved in the portfolio. A conceptual framework is introduced that helps improve the understanding of how customer portfolio models can actually be applied from a relational perspective.
The key aspects of the conceptual framework relate to how alignment of the relationships in the portfolio is achieved. Critical to this are the interaction spaces that facilitate communication relating to alignment and provide the context for the legitimacy of these actions to be discussed.
This framework needs to be empirically explored.
Understanding of alignment and misalignment processes in customer portfolios gives managers a tool to help to cope with the dynamic aspects of the customer portfolio. Recognition of the importance of communication to the process, the development of trust and the role of legitimacy also provides areas that managers can focus upon in their relationship management processes.
This conceptualization moves the consideration of relationship/customer portfolios beyond simply that of a resource allocation tool into a process that facilitates the use of the portfolio in relational processes and thus aids their understanding of how portfolios can be usefully applied.
The authors would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their comments that have helped the authors improve and develop the paper presented here.
Højbjerg Clarke, A., Freytag, P.V. and Zolkiewski, J. (2017), "Customer portfolios – challenges of internal and external alignment", IMP Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 109-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMP-06-2015-0029Download as .RIS
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