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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Paolo Guenzi, Luigi M. De Luca and Rosann Spiro

This paper aims to examine the impact of customer perceptions about a salesperson’s combined use of adaptive selling (AS) and selling orientation (SO) on customer trust in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the impact of customer perceptions about a salesperson’s combined use of adaptive selling (AS) and selling orientation (SO) on customer trust in the salesperson. Based on insights from attribution theory, the contingency model of salespeople’ effectiveness, relationship marketing and market orientation literatures, the authors analyze the interplay between customer perceptions of salespeople’s AS and SO, and how this affects customer trust. Furthermore, adopting a contingency perspective, the authors investigate how two important situational variables (i.e. length of buyer–seller relationships and importance of purchase for the buyer) affect this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on regression analysis with two- and three-way interactions, using survey data from 134 business-to-business (B2B) buyers.

Findings

The results indicate that the interplay between AS and SO is negatively related to trust, and that the above situation is attenuated in sales contexts characterized by high purchase importance or enduring buyer–seller relationships.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical findings are based on firms from a single industry. Second, a cross-sectional research design is adopted. Third, the absence of measures of objective performance (e.g. sales) might be regarded as a limitation.

Practical implications

The study suggests that salespeople willing to win customer trust should modify their approach across the relationship life cycle. Similarly, when purchase importance for the customer is low, salespeople interested in building relationships based on trust should combine AS and customer orientation. In contrast, when purchase importance is high, salespeople can only generate more trust by increasing customer orientation/reducing SO. These findings might inspire sales trainers and sales managers in developing training experiences based on adaptation and customer orientation.

Originality/value

The research contributes in several ways to the literature. First, the simultaneous effect of AS and SO on performance (i.e. customer trust) was investigated. Second, the analysis of the interaction between AS and SO was complemented by testing two important boundary conditions residing in the selling situation: purchase importance and relationship length. Third, this study is the first to examine the interplay among AS, SO and selling context outside using customer data from actual B2B sales interactions. Also, it enhances knowledge of the effects of AS on sales outcomes by adding a long-term, relational outcome (i.e. trust) to previous work that tended to focus on short-term outcomes (i.e. sales revenues). Furthermore, by investigating perceived benefits from the point of view of customers rather than sellers, our findings add to previous studies of AS which relied too heavily, or exclusively, on the voice of the seller. Finally, this study shed further light on the role played by SO in affecting customer-based performance.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 31 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 November 2013

Dino Ruta and Paolo Guenzi

Abstract

Details

Strategic HR Review, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-4398

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Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

Susi Geiger and Paolo Guenzi

This article aims to position current sales research in relation to what academics perceive as important future research areas for sales theory and practice. It makes the…

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to position current sales research in relation to what academics perceive as important future research areas for sales theory and practice. It makes the argument that after a 20‐year period of rapid growth and almost a decade of a transition phase, sales research is now a mature area of academic inquiry. The paper seeks to highlights gaps in current knowledge and promising avenues for future sales research endeavours.

Design/methodology/approach

The article is based on a survey of European sales academics; answers are mapped in matrices demonstrating fields of importance against research volume per subject over the past 20 years.

Findings

While sales research has made many theoretical and managerial inroads, there are still areas where research efforts would greatly enhance both practitioner and academic knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers should focus their efforts on the highlighted areas, taking particular account of the interplay between sales and finance/accounting. This would allow researchers to address such issues as budgeting and forecasting more systematically than had been done heretofore.

Originality/value

The article combines perceptual data with Williams and Plouffe's meta‐analysis of published sales research to deliver a comprehensive and actionable picture of the state of sales research.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

Nicholas G. Paparoidamis and Paolo Guenzi

This study aims to develop and test a model of relationship selling management. It seeks to examine the impact of leadership quality and relationship selling, as…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to develop and test a model of relationship selling management. It seeks to examine the impact of leadership quality and relationship selling, as antecedents of salespeople's relational behaviours, on sales effectiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

Starting from a review of literature, the model incorporates two classes of salespeople's relational behaviours, namely customer‐oriented selling (COS) and adaptive selling (AS), two classes of managerial antecedents (i.e. relationship selling strategy and LMX) and one consequence (sales effectiveness). The authors collected data from 164 sales manager‐salesperson dyads in a sample of French firms. A structural equation modelling approach was employed to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The findings show that relationship selling and LMX stimulate salespeople's relational behaviours, which in turn positively affect sales effectiveness. Moreover, the results reveal a positive impact of relationship selling on sales manager‐salesperson exchanges.

Research limitations/implications

The study is cross‐sectional, and many other relevant constructs should be investigated in future research on the topic. Objective measures of performance may also be incorporated.

Practical implications

The study demonstrates that companies can stimulate desirable behaviours of salespeople, which drive to better performance, by leveraging on controllable organisational factors, i.e. selling strategy and leadership.

Originality/value

The research fills three important gaps in the extant literature. First of all, the study clearly sheds some light on the role played by specific organisational variables (e.g. leader‐member exchange quality) and behaviours of salespeople in implementing relational strategies. Second, the study shows that the quality of the relationship between supervisors and salespeople can affect specific behaviours of subordinates. Third, the paper contributes to a better understanding of organisational drivers of customer‐oriented selling and adaptive selling, and finds evidence of a positive impact of such behaviours on sales effectiveness.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Paolo Guenzi and Marino Nocco

This paper explores the strategy of a professional soccer team introducing a new brand for selling merchandise. After reviewing literature on brand management, brand…

Abstract

This paper explores the strategy of a professional soccer team introducing a new brand for selling merchandise. After reviewing literature on brand management, brand equity and brand associations (with a special focus on their application in the sports industry), this paper examines the case of U.S. Lecce launching the Salento 12 brand and discusses characteristics and key success factors of the project. A model of brand equity drivers of consumers' behavioural intentions towards Salento 12 branded products is designed and tested on a sample of 150 customers. Brand loyalty, perceived value and brand associations with the territory are found to positively affect behavioural intentions.

Details

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1464-6668

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2015

Paolo Guenzi and Federico Panzeri

The purpose of this paper is to more thoroughly investigate the role of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) in sales force settings and the reason why salespeople…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to more thoroughly investigate the role of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) in sales force settings and the reason why salespeople should practice OCBs. In fact, in spite of the huge body of literature on OCBs and their impact on performance, some important knowledge gaps still remain to be filled. Inconsistent and unexpected findings are particularly apparent in the relatively few studies investigating OCBs in sales forces. The authors argue that some specific characteristics of the selling job and related tasks make the analysis of the practice of these behaviors in the sales context particularly interesting.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors explore which OCBs salespeople engage in, and analyze the perceived consequences of such behaviors using means-end theory and the laddering technique. They apply means-end theory and the laddering technique to interview a sample of salespersons from three companies operating in different business-to-business settings.

Findings

The end result of the empirical analysis is the hierarchical value map showing a set of linkages among OCBs and their perceived consequences. In the perceptions of salespeople, OCBs play a strong utilitarian role in that they facilitate personal goal attainment. In salespeople’s minds, there are no relevant trade-offs between OCBs and task-performance as long as the former can be used to improve the latter. For salespeople, the path from OCBs to performance may vary, depending on whether the performance in question is organizational, individual or customer-focused. Finally, some OCBs apparently contribute to creating customer trust in the salesperson.

Research limitations/implications

The findings add some interesting insights to the discussion regarding some controversies in OCBs literature, especially the interplay of contextual performance and task performance.

Practical implications

Various types of OCBs can be encouraged through different managerial interventions. As an example, altruism can be fostered by appropriate recruiting criteria (e.g. using “attitude toward teamwork” as a key personnel selection factor), and by training initiatives and leadership style. Altruism can also be stimulated by an adequately designed organizational structure (e.g. team-based) as well as by adopting appropriate integration mechanisms that facilitate interpersonal and interfunctional cooperation. Sales managers can foster some OCBs by promoting knowledge sharing and reciprocal learning among members of the sales team, and by emphasizing the positive consequences of OCBs in all communication with salespeople.

Originality/value

Findings from this study challenge some widespread assumptions about OCBs in general. In fact, most of the literature holds that OCBs are an example of prosocial behaviors. Actually, the findings suggest that in the specific case of salespeople, OCBs are ultimately self-directed, for the most part.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2010

Paolo Guenzi and Laurent Georges

This paper seeks to explore drivers and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson in the financial services industry. Its theoretical foundations are based on…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore drivers and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson in the financial services industry. Its theoretical foundations are based on literature on customers' interpersonal relationships with salespeople and front‐line employees, as well as on literature in the area of customer trust.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual model, specifying a set of hypotheses linking a salesperson's behaviours to customer trust, and the latter to behavioural loyalty intentions, was tested using partial least squares (PLS) on a sample of 150 customers in the Italian banking industry. Multiple models were compared in order to evaluate the mediating role of customer trust.

Findings

The results of the empirical study show that both salesperson's customer orientation and expertise positively influence customer trust in the salesperson. Conversely, selling orientation has a negative impact on it. Moreover, a salesperson's likeability does not influence customer trust. Finally, trust in the salesperson positively influences a customer's intentions to re‐buy/cross‐buy and to recommend, while it decreases a customer's intention to switch to competitors.

Research limitations/implications

The study suggests that different relational antecedents may have different impacts on different relational mediators and outcomes. Since the mechanisms of interpersonal relationship formation and development are multifaceted, to understand fully the complexity of relational phenomena researchers should develop and test models incorporating multiple relational antecedents and outcomes.

Practical implications

The study provides sales managers with some evidence of the behaviours that salespeople should adopt to influence successfully the creation of long‐term relationships, especially in the context of “credence” services. The findings suggest that the optimal behaviours of salespeople may vary, depending on the ultimate goal of the sellers' relational strategy. The authors suggest drivers that managers can leverage to stimulate salespeople to perform the desired behaviours.

Originality/value

The model tested in the empirical study highlights the mediating role of customer trust and incorporates a broad set of drivers and consequences of interpersonal trust. As such, it improves knowledge of trust‐building processes in the context of credence services, where trust and interpersonal relationships are very relevant.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 44 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

Belinda Dewsnap and David Jobber

The study explores structural devices designed to enhance collaboration between sales and marketing groups. The paper aims to develop a conceptual framework of how such…

Abstract

Purpose

The study explores structural devices designed to enhance collaboration between sales and marketing groups. The paper aims to develop a conceptual framework of how such integrative devices link to higher levels of sales‐marketing collaboration and also to higher levels of business performance.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 20 in‐depth interviews and a review of the literature are used to examine the nature and effects of sales‐marketing integrative devices in UK consumer packaged goods firms.

Findings

The study identifies two main types of integrative device in operation: trade marketing and category management. The exploratory interviews highlight how these two types of integrative device operate, respectively, at operational and strategic levels. All of the organisations were found to operate some kind of integrative device. However, the organisations studied manifest different levels of collaboration between sales and marketing groups. The conclusion drawn from this and subsequently included in the conceptual framework is that it is the effectiveness of integrative devices, rather than their mere existence, that differentiates between higher and lower levels of sales‐marketing collaboration.

Practical implications

The effectiveness of sales‐marketing integrative devices appears to have positive effects for collaborative sales‐marketing intergroup relations. The results therefore support the development and effective use of such devices to enhance collaborative relations between sales and marketing.

Originality/value

This study reveals the importance and dimensions of effective sales‐marketing integrative devices and uses in‐depth interviews to support the development of a conceptual framework for future empirical testing. Specific hypotheses to test are developed, together with suggestions regarding the measurement of constructs.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

Kaj Storbacka, Lynette Ryals, Iain A. Davies and Suvi Nenonen

Although there is substantial practitioner evidence for changes in the role and functioning of sales in the twenty‐first century, there is little academic research…

Abstract

Purpose

Although there is substantial practitioner evidence for changes in the role and functioning of sales in the twenty‐first century, there is little academic research charting new directions for the sales function in a business‐to‐business context. This paper aims to report on four case studies that illustrate how sales is changing.

Design/methodology/approach

The case studies involve large global companies who were changing their existing sales process to adapt to changing circumstances. The organizations comprised four global industries: construction, power solutions, building technology, and electronics and software.

Findings

The results demonstrate that sales is changing in three interrelated aspects: from a function to a process; from an isolated activity to an integrated one; and is becoming strategic rather than operational.

Originality/value

The results suggest that changes in the role of sales will affect sales processes and the way that the sales function liaises with other departments.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 24 July 2009

John W. Cadogan, Nick Lee, Anssi Tarkiainen and Sanna Sundqvist

The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a model of the role managers and peers play in shaping salespeople's ethical behaviour. The model specifies that sales…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a model of the role managers and peers play in shaping salespeople's ethical behaviour. The model specifies that sales manager personal moral philosophies, whether sales managers themselves are rewarded according to the outcomes or behaviours of their salespeople, sales team job security, intra‐team cooperation, and sales team tactical performance all influence sales team ethical standards. In turn, ethical standards influence the probability that sales team members will behave (un)ethically when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Design/methodology/approach

The model is tested on a sample of 154 Finnish sales managers. Data were collected via mail survey. Analysis was undertaken using structural equation modelling.

Findings

Ethical standards appear to be shaped by several factors; behaviour‐based management controls increase ethical standards, relativist managers tend to manage less ethically‐minded sales teams, job insecurity impedes the development of ethical standards, and sales teams' cooperation activity increases ethical standards. Sales teams are less likely to engage in unethical behaviour when the teams have strong ethical standards.

Research limitations/implications

Cross‐sectional data limits generalisability; single country data may limit the ability to generalise to different sales environments; additional measure development is needed; identification of additional antecedent factors would be beneficial.

Practical implications

Sales managers should consciously develop high ethical standards in sales teams if they wish to reduce unethical behaviour. Ethical standards can be improved if sales managers change their own outward behaviour (exhibit a less relativistic ethical philosophy), foster cooperation amongst salespeople, and develop perceptions of job security. How sales managers are rewarded may shape how they approach the management of ethical behaviour in their sales teams.

Originality/value

This paper appears to be the first to simultaneously examine both sales manager‐specific and sales team‐specific antecedents to sales team ethical standards and behaviours. As such, it provides an important base for research in this critical area.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 43 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

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