Organizing Marketing and Sales

Cover of Organizing Marketing and Sales

Mastering Contemporary B2B Challenges



Table of contents

(26 chapters)

The purpose of this chapter is to set the stage for the rest of the book. It is based on a number of interesting observations illustrating contemporary activities in regard to a broad range of sales-related topics. Among other observations are a number of developments that have followed with digitalization.

The chapter presents the core themes of the book and provides rationales for the choices. The themes are: value-based offerings, solution-oriented business, and on-going efforts of organizing to manage the multitude of issues connected to sales and marketing.

A second issue is the presentation of a framework against which to position important core issues in sales management. This includes aspects of organizational design, leadership, technology support, and more. All these are organized into four main categories. This “map” is utilized to position the coming parts and chapters.


The aim of this chapter is to introduce the reader to the complexities of marketing organization especially in bigger firms. This chapter draws attention to one of these major drivers for change — globalization. This is done with the help of an in-depth case study of ABB Robotics.

The case describes how a change is achieved through a major marketing reorganization process. Initially, there are major difficulties grasping the organizational problem and identifying its causes. Many different organizational “issues” are part of the problem in the multifaceted case. Relying on complexity theory, the case suggests that a more complex environment with greater number of relevant players, which are — themselves — interconnected through networks, will also exhibit a greater range of change. Change and reorganization processes like the one confronting the case company would rather be the normal situation for companies embedded in complex global networks.


The aim of this chapter is to approach marketing organization from a research perspective, research that reflects contemporary practices of the time. This is done through a review of some of the central texts in the field. The chapter starts by drawing attention to two previous attempts to review and revisit the field, two influential and frequently cited researchers and texts: Achrol’s (1991) frequently cited article entitled “Evolution of the marketing organization: New forms for turbulent environments” and Homburg and colleagues’ (2000) review a decade later entitled “Fundamental changes in marketing organization: The movement toward a customer-focused organizational structure.”

The chapter then reviews the field around 2010, leading into the author’s own concluding reflections on how circumstances internal and external to organizations have affected the organizing of marketing. The chapter argues that while some ideas and changes after 2010 might be viewed as new, other changes are apparently old changes in new shapes. Attention is drawn to six areas of marketing organization research that have emerged and taken a central position in marketing organization research: (1) the adaptation of marketing practice and organization to various business trends, (2) market- and customer-oriented organizations, (3) shifts in marketing’s general role and influence within the firm, (4) marketing’s strategic role and connection to business management, (5) marketing’s interactions with other internal functions, and (6) marketing organization and the application of a wider spectrum of organization theories.


The topics of this chapter are quite fundamental for the book. The chapter deals with value in B2B; what is value, what creates value, how could value be identified, estimated, and exploited. For these reasons, the chapter presents a value calculation model and carries out a critical discussion of the meaningfulness of doing such calculations.

A second theme is a discussion about solution sales relative to product sales and also systems selling. We also provide a comparison between business ventures focusing on selling goods, a goods-dominant logic, relative to services, a service-dominant logic. This comparison is made with reference to the two underlying themes of the book, the solution-oriented business and the continuously ongoing organizing activities.


This chapter is an in-depth description of a change process when a company in the media industry carries out a major reorientation of its business. Its old product-oriented business model has become obsolete and it turns toward a solutions-oriented business. But that turns out to be a much more complicated process than anticipated.

The chapter provides a lively story about this process: Why did it start to begin with, what are the kinds of critical events, which are the turning points, resistance to change, tensions, how are they managed, etc.

The chapter and the story told serves as an illustration and a representative for many other similar processes.


The chapter starts with an observation from a selection of contemporary business situations indicating that B2B sales episodes are frequently quite complicated, multidimensional and long term. At the same time, models and theorizing about sales still tend to be highly inspired by the old seven steps of selling framework.

A grounded theory is reported where a broader view was taken. The study resulted in a conceptual framework where the core process was named “business maneuvering.” Complementary processes were also identified. These are judiciously managed and balanced a little differently each time during the process of doing business. In other words, these other activities are “maneuvered” (i.e., managed with dexterity and skill).

Four complementary processes were extracted. They all represented interrelated categories that describe various selling activities:

  • (1)

    business standardization;

  • (2)

    business fraternization;

  • (3)

    personalization; and

  • (4)

    probationary business rationalization.

business standardization;

business fraternization;

personalization; and

probationary business rationalization.

Those processes are described along with their relations and implications for the understanding of sales processes are drawn.


In this chapter, a qualitative study of successful sales organizations is reported. Based on the findings, different concepts are derived. The aim of the conceptual development is to help describing the processes of managing a sales organization. It is a new model created from the ground. Still, we can easily see the similarities to the findings and connections to important concepts from established literature.

The interplay between structure and processes, “the frame,” and individual’s development turns out to be at the core of successful sales organizations. This interplay is coined organizational balancing.

The study and this chapter contribute to the extant discussion of causalities between specific factors influencing the sales process, a holistic approach seems highly relevant. However, one specific factor, namely the role of leadership will also be examined.

The core of managing a sales organization effectively is to be aware and take into consideration how the frame and the individual are intervened into each other. They exist in a complex interplay that is in constant flux. That is the message of organizational balancing.


In this chapter, we try to put ourselves in the buyer’s situation. It is a strong ongoing change force among contemporary organizations. Purchasing organizations are getting more capable, better equipped with tools, methods, higher skilled people, and improved organizational designs. This means that the business landscape for sales has changed significantly.

In this chapter, we describe this development and what it means for the ways in which purchasing organizations manage their business and also what are the implications for sales organizations. Our message is that these developments are important to be aware of for people in sales as well as for the entire sales organization and sales managers.


B2B business is very much about relationships, and solution-oriented business may further underline this. But relations could look very different and the interface between buyer and seller could also vary a lot and be more or less fit for purpose.

In this chapter, we point at possibilities to be more methodical about the ways in which the interfaces are organized. In longer-term business, this seems to be a core factor in order for the two or more parties involved how to get the best value of their relation. We discuss interaction patterns and what seem to be the most important factors influencing the success or failure.


The aim of this chapter is to illustrate and discuss — through a case study of Sandvik Corporation — how business practices with focus on sales can improve with regard to effectiveness and efficiency by utilization of IT tools. This approach challenges the traditional view of doing business in big industrial corporations where sales experts known as sales stars have traditionally developed relationships with customers. In order to do this, the chapter initially delineates the traditional business practices and the main issues associated with this approach.

The following section brings up the case of Sandvik Corporation. This part of the chapter first discusses problems with unorganized business practices as a source of business inefficiency. These problems are represented by (1) offer and order management, (2) pricing and value, and (3) customer planning and daily work routines. The consequent part of this section illustrates how the company improved its business by organizing business practices using CRM tools. The discussion of the new efficiencies is supported by elaboration on the Sandvik’s Sales Program that the organization launched in order to address the above mentioned problems of inefficiencies is sales work. The chapter ends with potential new challenges that the implementation of IT tools brought about and a summary of the chapter.


This chapter starts with the phenomenon of CRM systems being sometimes more considered as a burden than a support by salespeople. The main argument is that CRM tools do barely fit the needs of salespeople as their functions, most of all, are administrative, which leads to a resistance for using them.

The author shows how this kind of shortcomings are manifested in “real-life” operations and finds out that much of the problems seem to be due to the very architecture of extant CRM systems. Indeed, creative offerings and business development imply advanced cognitive processes for which there are no functions in traditional CRM tools.

Therefore, the core part of the chapter leads to a discussion on how genuine supportive CRM systems architecture should be designed. The sales process is made of three phases beyond the administration one, namely, a sense-making, a sense-giving, and a sense-acting phase. An adequate architectural design would take into consideration functions that support the whole process, which also includes informative links and a much more visual design to process information instantly.


The chapter pays specific attention to the organizing and reorganizing process of the embedding of new technology. The aim is to increase the understanding of how a focal technology is incrementally aligned into a customer’s different business settings. Embedding becomes subject to intense organizing efforts. It becomes a struggle with activating different features of the focal technology by forging and modifying the resource interfaces between the focal technology and customer resources.

The organizing efforts are about seeking, in an explorative mood, for resource interfaces between the focal technology and the customer resources. This organizing process enables the identification of new adaptation opportunities for technology embedding processes, whereby the focal technology obtains certain feature and values.

A systematically developed knowledge of resource interfaces is a key for activating different features of the focal technology and thereby facilitating its embedding into the customer’s various business settings. This is described in a single case study in the chapter. This case and the analysis show how a supplier and a customer struggle with developing resource interface knowledge to activate the different features of the focal technology, thereby facilitating its embedding process. The first part of the chapter establishes a theoretical framework, followed in the second part by the case study and analysis. The concluding discussion emphasizes the importance of understanding and managing various interfaces as part of the organizing processes.


Increasingly, product companies are attempting to offer solutions rather than standalone goods. However, recent field data show product companies tend to follow their product-centric doctrine to deal with solutions. In fact, the value of a solution for customers is to get their particular problems solved in the long run.

In this chapter, a new view (a circular process view) of solutions is introduced to help product companies to cocreate sustainable solutions with their customers. Derived from this new view, the required distinctive capabilities for organizing sustainable customer solutions are elaborated. They are (1) understanding the customer’s actual and ongoing needs, (2) organizing responsive systems integration, (3) ensuring continuous customer value creation, and (4) sustaining the solution in the network.


In this chapter, we connect our focus — the organizing of marketing — to one of the strongest drivers for its change — digitalization — and draw attention to various “dual forces” that affect marketing as a consequence. These dual forces are associated with the concept of ambidexterity. Given that companies today are affected by digitalization, both internally in their organizations and in their external business relations, and that they need to act as ambidextrous organizations handling both old (“analog”) and new (“digital”) situations, how does this affect marketing, in general, and the organizing of marketing, in particular?

The chapter will be founded on the assumptions that digitalization is a central driver of change in business and society today, and this digitalization requires organizations to explore new opportunities while still operating with mature technologies in mature markets. Marketing most often has a central role in this situation of digitalization. The connection between digitalization processes, ambidextrous organizations, and the processes of organizing marketing is the focus of this chapter.

The subject is wide, and the aim of the chapter is to generate ideas on some potential consequences for marketing management and organization. The chapter ends with a set of propositions serving as starting points for further studies of the links between digitalization, marketing management and organization, as well as the forces resulting from digitalization.


The chapter aims to provide a dynamic-process perspective of radical marketing reorganization processes and what drives such complex processes. The chapter draws on organization and management literature to develop a conceptual framework for understanding such reorganization processes. It is also based on two major empirical studies. The first is a historical study that focuses on the consequences for different parts of marketing organizations when two organizations merge.

The study shows how, for example, over time various tensions, conflicts, and contradictions become important drivers for the continued, long-term process to create a new, joint marketing organization. The second study investigates three cases of reorganization processes that integrated digital and physical sales channels. The investigation describes the tensions occurring among the groups and individuals responsible for each channel. By describing the handling of the tensions and subsequent effects, they outline a dynamic model of channel integration processes. Both models are presented in the chapter. The chapter concludes that marketing in reality is becoming more of an organizational topic in which successful transitions of marketing organizations become a matter of organizing and reorganizing.


This chapter is a response to observations from previous chapters where we have learnt that the context surrounding B2B sales seem to deviate quite a lot from a traditional market view based on neoclassic theory. In the first part of this chapter, we contrast the two different views of markets and with that as our reference point, we discuss some general implications for marketing, sales, and purchasing.

The chapter looks deeper into a “markets-as-networks” perspective and argues that such lenses applied on marketing and sales activities in business markets will have implications on ways to organize marketing and sales. Actors, activities, and resources are embedded into structures (activity, actor, and resource structures), and it is important to have a reasonable sense of what and how these structures look in order to make the best priorities for the short- and long-term success of the business.

The chapter addresses how the market system surrounding the supplier–customer interchange contributes to setting the scene for operating exchange processes. Five general network themes and challenges for sales and marketing have been identified and explored. Against these, the chapter puts organizational issues in focus. Two aspects are in focus of this concluding discussion: first, organizational variety and ongoing processes of organizational adaptation, and second, coordination and communication.


The point of departure for this chapter is a notion that firms at times find it difficult to develop their solution-oriented businesses and to have a broader understanding in their organizations of what this changed orientation really means.

The author looks into prevailing perspectives on marketing as such and creates a “map” that organizes marketing logics into a dynamic whole for value creation and change based on theoretical points of departure. Supported by this map, she tailors out a missing perspective based on a sense-making view that could be fruitful for companies to apply. It is basically to create a stronger awareness of and influence from a branding perspective (also in B2B). Based on an empirical example she points at barriers and enablers in implementing such a change of marketing perspective. She also addresses the implications of such a change on organizing and not least the connections between sales and marketing.

This chapter points forward as a way to release energy and to find direction for the development toward a solution-oriented business.


In the final chapter of the book the authors discuss potential continued developments of some of the topics addressed in the previous texts of the book. The final overview of the book starts with a set of some more practical, empirical issues that deserve attention.

The choice of practical issues in marketing organization are collected from the authors of the various chapters, in contacts with marketing practitioners, and from various secondary sources. The issues deal with, for example, the new business landscape with well-informed and capable procurement organizations and aspects of organizing marketing in order to deal with customers in the public sector. Furthermore, the practical issues discussed deal with the organizing of marketing as part of the organizing of markets.

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