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Article
Publication date: 31 August 2021

Jonna Koponen, Saara Julkunen, Mika Gabrielsson and Ellen Bolman Pullins

The purpose of this paper is to explore how business-to-business (B2B), intercultural, interpersonal salesperson–customer relationships develop using the lens of identity…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how business-to-business (B2B), intercultural, interpersonal salesperson–customer relationships develop using the lens of identity management theory (IMT; Imahori and Cupach, 2005).

Design/methodology/approach

The research uses qualitative semi-structured interviews on 18 targeted relationships with customers from another culture conducted with business-to-business salespeople.

Findings

The findings indicate that our respondents' relationships moved from trial toward enmeshment and on occasion toward the renegotiation phase, as described in IMT. In the case of low cultural diversity between salesperson and customer, the relationships reached the trial and enmeshment phase. In the case of high cultural diversity between salesperson and customer, the relationships on occasion evolved toward the renegotiation phase. Salespeople's cultural intelligence (CQ) facilitates the development of interpersonal, intercultural salesperson–customer relationships.

Originality/value

The authors transfer IMT from the personal relationship development arena to B2B intercultural, interpersonal relationships, address a gap in the literature in the understanding of salesperson–customer interpersonal relationships in different contexts and develop a theoretical model to understand intercultural, interpersonal salesperson–customer relationship development across different levels of cultural diversity.

Details

International Marketing Review, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-1335

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Article
Publication date: 8 July 2020

Jarkko Niemi and Ellen Bolman Pullins

This paper aims to explore salesperson–customer interactions to identify actual behaviors that result in enhanced customer disclosure and classify them as disclosure…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore salesperson–customer interactions to identify actual behaviors that result in enhanced customer disclosure and classify them as disclosure tactics, and to explore whether certain tactics are more likely to lead to salesperson–customer relationship advancement.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative research uses conversation analysis to identify salesperson disclosure tactics that result in customer disclosure, using 12 video-recordings of authentic business-to-business initial sales meetings between a salesperson and customer.

Findings

Findings showed four disclosure tactics that salespeople use to get customers to disclose information: embedded expertise claims, tailored references, demonstrations of preparation and customer orientation and benevolence. These tactics appear more often and are executed differently in sales meetings that successfully advance.

Originality/value

The research addresses an unexplored area of specific salesperson behaviors and their connection to customer disclosure and relationship advancement in the exploration phase. Additionally, this fills a gap that cannot be addressed with traditional survey or interview data and brings conversation analysis to this particular area.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 36 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Timo Arvid Kaski, Pia Hautamaki, Ellen Bolman Pullins and Heidi Kock

The purpose of this paper to explore the value creation expectations of salespeople and buyers for initial sales meetings and to investigate how such expectations align.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper to explore the value creation expectations of salespeople and buyers for initial sales meetings and to investigate how such expectations align.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors applied expectancy disconfirmation theory and conducted a qualitative study among 12 B2B service salespeople and 12 buyers. The data includes 46 in-depth interviews collected during 2 separate interview rounds.

Findings

The authors discovered that buyers’ and sellers’ expectations differ and that buyers’ expectations are not reasonably satisfied. Buyers expect more business acumen, innovativeness, future orientation, long-term relationships and responsiveness to their specific situation from sellers. As salespeople´s salespeople´s expectations to create value for customers primarily stem from the solutions they sell as well as from their personal skills and behavior, there is need for sellers to focus on the gaps indicated in this study.

Research limitations/implications

The paper introduces expectancy disconfirmation theory to the B2B buyer-seller literature.

Practical implications

Identifying where expectations are being met and where they are being negatively disconfirmed can assist in hiring and training salespeople who are better able to meet, or exceed, buyer expectations.

Originality/value

The authors believe that these findings can benefit sales organizations in how they create value with new customers and how salespeople can align their actions with customers more effectively.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 11 December 2020

Bashar S. Gammoh, Michael L. Mallin and Ellen Bolman Pullins

This study aims to extend current research efforts by examining the dual role of salesperson brand and organizational identification in driving organizational citizenship…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to extend current research efforts by examining the dual role of salesperson brand and organizational identification in driving organizational citizenship behaviors, brand advocacy and ultimately brand market performance.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses an online survey to collect data from a cross-sectional sample of salespeople. The measurement model and proposed research hypotheses are tested with SmartPLS.

Findings

Study results show that each level of identification has a stronger influence on the type of behaviors relevant to that foci of identification. That is, salesperson organizational identification has a significant and strong effect on organizational citizenship behavior while the influence of salesperson organizational identification on brand advocacy is not significant. Along the same lines, salesperson identification with the brand significantly influences brand advocacy behaviors but not their overall organizational citizenship behaviors. These empirical findings are consistent with assertions in the literature that variables (antecedents or outcomes) associated with identification at a certain level will have a stronger relationship with identification at that level.

Originality/value

Despite existing research efforts on the potential positive outcomes of salesperson identification, there is less empirical evidence regarding the dual role of brand and organizational identification. This research contributes to the current literature by proposing and empirically examining the differential (identity-matching) antecedents and outcomes of salespeople’s dual identification with the organization and the brand. Furthermore, existing research mostly focuses on organizational or sales management outcomes but not brand specifically related outcomes. Theoretically, this research draws on social identity theory to investigate the combined effect of salesperson brand and organizational identification on key brand-related outcomes. Managerially, this study provides empirically-based suggestions for managers interested in harnessing the power of identification.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2018

Bashar S. Gammoh, Michael L. Mallin, Ellen Bolman Pullins and Catherine M. Johnson

The purpose of the study is to address the gap in understanding how the brand influences sales outcomes by focusing one’s attention on the salesperson perceptions of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study is to address the gap in understanding how the brand influences sales outcomes by focusing one’s attention on the salesperson perceptions of the brand and the salesperson brand selling confidence.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a cross-section survey of professional salespeople. SmartPLS was used to estimate the measurement model and test the hypothesized path relationships.

Findings

The study’s results indicate that salespeople who believe in the strength of the brands they represent are more likely to identify with the brand, are more confident in selling the brand and, overall, tend to perform better, have higher job satisfaction and are more committed to their companies.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the sales literature by further exploring the relationship between the brand and sales function in the firm. This area has recently received academic attention but has not yet considered the mediating processes that connect the two areas. This study identifies perceptions of brand strength and brand selling confidence as mechanisms that mediate the impact of brand on sales outcomes.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 33 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Concha Allen, Stacey Schetzsle, Michael L. Mallin and Ellen Bolman Pullins

The purpose of this paper is to determine the effects from perceptions of age disadvantageness when job candidates are interviewing with recruiters from different age…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the effects from perceptions of age disadvantageness when job candidates are interviewing with recruiters from different age groups. More specifically, the authors examine the issues of intergenerational recruiting through the lens of social identity theory (SIT) and relational demography. Using these theoretical underpinnings, problems that result from dissatisfaction with between group inequities in the recruiting process are explored.

Design/methodology/approach

Using these theoretical underpinnings, problems that result from dissatisfaction with between group inequities in the recruiting process are explored. Results from a survey of 176 undergraduate students actively pursuing sales positions provide evidence that candidate perceptions are influenced by age of the interviewer.

Findings

The results support that sales job candidates do indeed feel disadvantaged when interviewed by older recruiters. Compared to interviewers from a more similar age in-group interviewer, the respondents felt a greater difficulty in establishing commonality and credibility and they felt the need to establish dependability, demonstrate professionalism, energy, and enthusiasm with an older out-group interviewer. Interestingly, sales job candidates did not feel lower levels of job confidence relative to the age-group of the interviewer.

Research limitations/implications

The study reflects the perceptions of sales job applicants sampled from only two universities in the same region of the USA. Generalizations outside of this job applicant population (i.e. major and geography) cannot be made based on this limited group of respondents. Additionally, outcomes were not explored in this paper, so there is no way to know with certainty that these feelings of disadvantageness translate to concrete differences in results, such as lower job acceptance.

Practical implications

From a recruiting/hiring managers’ perspective, they should be mindful that younger sales job candidates may feel uncomfortable or disadvantaged relative to age/generational differences. This could potentially even impact a recruit's desire to consider a company and accept a job offer, based on perceived organizational cultural differences. Educators need to prepare college students for the interview process. They should make students aware that they may feel the need to compensate for feelings that stem from intergeneration differences.

Originality/value

From a theory perspective, the study applies the SIT to a human resource and recruiting context to better understand possible recruiting barriers that may be particularly relevant in today's changing recruitment environment. This represents one of only a few empirical research efforts that has attempted to explain intergenerational recruiting issues relative to SIT. In addition to the use of SIT and relational demography, this paper introduces a unique context.

Details

American Journal of Business, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1935-5181

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2000

Ellen Bolman Pullins, Curtis P. Haugtvedt, Peter R. Dickson, Leslie M. Fine and Roy J. Lewicki

Considers cooperative negotiation tactic use in early stages of business‐to‐business buyer‐seller relationships. Specifically, it addresses a serious gap in the study of…

Abstract

Considers cooperative negotiation tactic use in early stages of business‐to‐business buyer‐seller relationships. Specifically, it addresses a serious gap in the study of individual difference effects on cooperative negotiation, an area that has received little academic attention. In doing so, insight is provided on an area that marketing researchers say needs attention now. We conduct a study where subjects take the role of a salesperson. They make offers, or respond to buyers’ offers, to negotiate. Subjects indicate what offers they would make, or what counteroffers they would respond with. Results support the notion that individual differences in intrinsic motivation (operationalized as autonomy causality orientation) affect the use of cooperative offers, but do not affect counteroffers, due possibly to reciprocation.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 15 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Ellen Bolman Pullins, Michael L. Mallin, Richard E. Buehrer and Deirdre E. Jones

The Millennial generation (born after 1981) of salespeople is projected to become the apparent heir to replace top‐end Baby Boomers expected to retire at an alarming rate…

Abstract

Purpose

The Millennial generation (born after 1981) of salespeople is projected to become the apparent heir to replace top‐end Baby Boomers expected to retire at an alarming rate over the next five years. This problem poses a significant challenge in that buyer‐seller relationships will need to form between members of different generations.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a grounded theory style approach, the paper explores this intergenerational selling relationship development problem.

Findings

In addition to confirming that Millennial salespeople feel challenged by differences stemming from their age‐group, several strategies were identified for Millennial salespeople to overcome these challenges and effectively build relationships with their (older) customers.

Research limitations/implications

The study is qualitative and based on a limited convenience sample, but reveals the need to further pursue study in this area.

Practical implications

Managers can help younger salespeople develop strategies for managing older buyers. These strategies are establishing similarities, building credibility, showing dependability, demonstrating professionalism, and showing youthful enthusiasm.

Originality/value

The paper helps resolve the issue of whether understanding generational differences is important. Statistics show that increasingly younger salespeople will call on older buyers. The paper establishes that this is consistent with discrimination, SIT theory, rather than earlier work on similarities.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 26 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Bashar S. Gammoh, Michael L. Mallin and Ellen Bolman Pullins

This paper focuses on the role of personality congruence, between salespeople’s own personality and the personality of the brand they represent, in driving salesperson…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper focuses on the role of personality congruence, between salespeople’s own personality and the personality of the brand they represent, in driving salesperson identification with the brand and its subsequent effects on important sales force outcomes, including intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, task self-efficacy and both behavioral and outcome performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Data was collected via an online survey from a cross-sectional sample of salespeople. In all, 246 completed the survey. SmartPLS was used to estimate the measurement model and test the hypothesized path relationships using a (partial least squares) structural model.

Findings

Results indicated support for all proposed hypotheses in our model. In conclusion, we demonstrate, that the congruency of the salesperson personality with his or her perceived brand personality has a significant impact on the brand identification by the salesperson. This identification has important sales force outcomes, including affecting intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, task self-efficacy and both behavioral and outcome performance. This supports the notion of social identity theory as an important theoretical framework for understanding how the salesperson relates to and delivers the brand message.

Originality/value

Previous research has investigated the drivers and implications of customers’ identification with brands and employees’ identification with their organizations. However, less research attention has focused on salesperson identification with the brand. Given the uniqueness of the boundary-spanning role and the importance of the salesperson to the marketing communication of the brand image, investigation of the drivers of salesperson brand identification becomes particularly important.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 23 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2007

Sylvain Senecal, Ellen Bolman Pullins and Richard E. Buehrer

Increasingly, salespeople adopt, or are being asked to adopt, and use a variety of technologies to increase their selling productivity and efficiency. Given this trend…

Abstract

Purpose

Increasingly, salespeople adopt, or are being asked to adopt, and use a variety of technologies to increase their selling productivity and efficiency. Given this trend, many researchers have begun to explore the question of sales force adoption of technology. However, little work has been done to consider what happens once this technology is adopted. The purpose of this paper is to report two studies that investigated if and why salespeople had different technology usage and if the extent of usage had an impact on their performance.

Design/methodology/approach

First, a qualitative study was performed to gain insights about extent of technology usage and the reasons that may explain differences. In order to test some of the research propositions that emerged from the qualitative study, an empirical study was conducted with 130 salespeople.

Findings

Innovativeness was found to be helpful in distinguishing between different technology usage levels across various technologies (internet, e‐mail, intranet, etc.). Results also suggest three potential antecedents of technology use, as well as a potential moderator of the usage to performance relationship.

Originality/value

This paper provides a research agenda for studying this important area. Further, the practicing manager will gain insight into some variables that help predict usage extent, and may provide better ideas on implementing and managing the use of technology by their sales force.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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