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The utilization of online sales forums by salespeople as a mesosystem for enhancing sales-activity knowledge

Richard Conde (Department of General Business, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management Marilyn, Davies School of Business, University of Houston Downtown, Houston, Texas, USA)
Victor Prybutok (Toulouse Graduate School , University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Cameron Sumlin (Department of Marketing, Louisiana Technical University, Ruston, Louisiana, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 7 September 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




Through the use of netnography, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the interaction of 192 inside sales agents who collaborate within discussion forums to create communities of practice (CoPs). Drawing on situated learning theory and inside salespersons’ discussion forums, this study showcases how inside sales agents use CoPs to better their sales activity knowledge. This paper discovered how inside sales agents reach outside their organization to seek information within their mesosystem to positively impact sales activity knowledge outcomes.


This study used the use of netnography to follow the online community from afar, observing and capturing the essence of interaction without intruding on the conversation. Data from two inside sales professional discussion forums, 192 inside sales agents, produced nearly 67,161 words or 496 double-spaced pages.


This research demonstrates the power of CoPs. Inside sales agents seek information outside their company, within their mesosystem, to gain knowledge to improve sales activities. As boundary spanners, inside sales agents are not restricted, but rather, proactively find ways to consistently keep learning.

Practical implications

Organizations can and should implement internal CoPs to allow the exchange between sales agents in a more controlled matter. Furthermore, sales managers should proactively seek extern CoPs and introduced them to their organization as supplemental training.


The use of netnography is limited in sales literature. The research provides support for the use of netnography as it provides researchers firsthand access to multiple sales roles. This unadulterated access provides sales researchers the opportunity to study the many facets of sales, with pure, genuine data.



Conde, R., Prybutok, V. and Sumlin, C. (2021), "The utilization of online sales forums by salespeople as a mesosystem for enhancing sales-activity knowledge", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 630-640.



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