چگونه اتوماسیون نیروی فروش بر کیفیت ارتباط و عملکرد تاثیر می گذارد ؟ نقش واسطه های یادگیری و رفتارهای فروش
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|27748||2010||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||8700 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 39, Issue 7, October 2010, Pages 1128–1138
Sales force automation (SFA) technologies are increasingly used to support customer relationship management strategies. However, previous studies have reported mixed results about the performances of SFA technologies. Therefore, this study seeks to further examine the impact of SFA usage on both customer relationship quality and sales performance. Additionally, the mediating roles of learning and adaptive selling behaviors on the outcomes of SFA usage are investigated. The results highlight the mediating role of salesperson learning and adaptive selling behaviors in the SFA usage and sales performance relationship. Especially noteworthy is the impact of learning through adaptive selling on those outcome variables. Implications for SFA research and practice that may further improve our understanding of this increasingly relevant topic are also offered.
Because of today's intensive competitive environment, companies are taking new avenues to make inroads into or enhance their market position. One such effort involves acquiring customer information that enables development and implementation of more efficient and effective customer-focused strategies and detailed promotional programs (Hansotia, 2002, Kim and Kim, 2009 and King and Burgess, 2008). Germane information can help company sales personnel build mutually beneficial, long-term customer relationships—the focus of many contemporary salespeople (Anderson et al., 2007 and Weitz et al., 1986). Accordingly, numerous companies have become attracted to the enhanced communication and information access represented by customer relationship management (CRM) through the use of sales force automation (SFA) technologies (e.g., Cho and Chang, 2008, Hair et al., 2009 and Widmier et al., 2002). Proponents of SFA have long advocated its potential for increased productivity (e.g., Hair et al., 2009, Moriarty and Swartz, 1989 and Wedell and Hempeck, 1987). Indeed, early reports almost universally heralded the enhanced efficiency and rapid return on investment resulting from the implementation of SFA systems (Colombo, 1993, McLachlan, 1992 and Swenson and Parrella, 1992). More recent findings, however, suggest that a startling percentage—upwards of 70%—of SFA projects have been unsuccessful (e.g., Ericson, 2002 and Rivers and Dart, 1999). Several notable studies have sought to explain these mixed results by positioning the problem as chiefly one of failed or incomplete adoption of the technology by the sales force. Researchers of these empirical efforts essentially attribute these discrepant outcomes to variables that influence adoption success. For instance, Jones, Sundaram, and Chin (2002) examined factors that influence salespeople's intention to adopt SFA tools versus their actual usage of those tools (SFA infusion). The findings revealed that there are different factors affecting intention to use and actual usage. Rivers and Dart (1999) investigated variables that have an impact on the extent of SFA acquisition (in dollars and perceived technological sophistication of SFA equipment) and achieved SFA benefits (perceived change in salesperson efficiency and perceived average payback period for the SFA investment). That work identified a number of correlates related to company acquisition of sales force technology, but relatively few of the study's variables were related to whether firms realize any benefits from SFA investments. Keillor, Bashaw, and Pettijohn (1997) studied salesperson attitudes toward the use of technology applications and relationships between these attitudes and salespeople's experience and perceived productivity. They observed that technology can contribute to increased salesperson productivity and may be a way through which less experienced sales personnel can augment their productivity faster. Despite the value that ascertaining variables which influence successful SFA adoption provides, there may well be alternate reasons for SFA success and failures. In fact, we argue that perhaps focusing on that answer is too simplistic. We assert that the discordant results stem from the foci of extant empirical work. First, as some studies already suggest, the mixed results may be a function of the SFA construct itself and variables related to it. Indeed, Jones et al. (2002) aver that the “productivity paradox” (Venkatesh & Davis, 2000, p.186) may stem from low usage of the system, as opposed to adoption, per se. That is, a firm may have implemented (or “adopted”) SFA, but its salespeople might be utilizing it at a low level. This supposition is consistent with some previous SFA research (e.g., Keillor et al., 1997 and Rivers and Dart, 1999). Furthermore, Parthasarathy and Sohi (1997) propose that SFA adoption occurs at two levels—organizational and salesperson. Another possible rationale for the inconsistent findings regarding SFA success or failure pertains to the measure of SFA “success” that researchers typically have employed. A recent stream of research has focused on the importance of determinants of successful technology adoption or extent of usage of SFA. For instance, after interviewing executives in three firms, Bush, Moore, and Rocco (2005) developed a model that suggests SFA success/failure rests on three major variables: degree of requisite process change, salesperson buy-in, and perceptions of technology enablement. Schillewaert, Ahearne, Frambach, and Moenaert (2005) explored factors that influence technology use. They found that usage depends on salespeople's perceptions about the ability of technology to augment their performance, their personal innovativeness, and company efforts vis-à-vis user training. Testing a model of CRM technology usage, Avlontinis and Panagopoulos (2005) discerned that salesperson usage is a function of perceived usefulness and ease of use of the technology, accuracy of expectations vis-à-vis system usage, salesperson technological innovativeness, and manager support and encouragement. Rangarajan, Jones, and Chin (2005) determined that SFA usage is related to salespeople's efforts in placing technology into their daily activities, as well as the perceived usefulness of the technology. And Buehrer, Senecal, and Pullins (2005) investigated why sales personnel utilize SFA, perceived obstacles to SFA usage, and requisite management efforts to augment SFA usage. The major reason for salespeople's use of technology was enhanced performance, little or no and technical support was the key impediment to usage, and training was the most effective way in which to enhance usage of SFA. Witness that the criterion for SFA success in the foregoing work is usage. Adoption does not imply that SFA efforts have been successful. Sales personnel may be utilizing management-mandated SFA tools but may be doing so in a tempered fashion (e.g., Keillor et al., 1997 and Rivers and Dart, 1999). For instance, if salespeople feel that the SFA tool is not easy to use or provides little value, they are not likely to embrace the technology (Avlonitis and Panagopoulos, 2005, Jones et al., 2002 and Robinson et al., 2005). SFA technology is intended to enhance salesperson efficiency and effectiveness (Anderson et al., 2007 and Hair et al., 2009) and ultimately firm performance (Kim & Kim, 2009). Yet, whether this intention aligns with reality generally remains an empirical question, as little scholarly work has investigated the SFA usage/salesperson performance link. Ahearne, Jelinek, and Rapp (2005) examined the moderating impact of user training and support on the association between use of SFA and salesperson percent of quota and daily number of calls (two measures of performance). Study results indicated that the use of SFA enhances those two performance variables only when sufficient user support and training are provided. Ahearne, Srinivasan, and Weinstein (2004) determined that the relationship between SFA usage and salesperson performance (percent of quota achieved) is curvilinear. Avlontinis and Panagopoulos (2005), though, found no association between SFA usage and salesperson performance. Notwithstanding these three studies, further examination of the SFA usage/salesperson relationship appears warranted, which is consistent with Avlontinis and Panagopoulos (2005) call for additional research in the area. Also, previous studies essentially have disregarded the relationship between SFA usage and customer relationship quality, another potential measure of SFA success. Interestingly, Yim, Anderson, and Swaminathan (2005) ascertained that incorporating CRM technology had no impact on three performance metrics that are associated with customer relationship quality—customer satisfaction, customer retention, or sales volume. An improved quality of the salesperson–customer relationship may be one of the more important outcomes of SFA usage (Jayachandran, Sharma, Kaufman, & Raman, 2005). This shortcoming in prior empirical work is especially meaningful in today's marketplace, given the increasing focus placed on retention, customer equity, and customer lifetime value (Rust, Zeithaml, & Lemon, 2004). Enhanced understanding of relationship quality in the context of SFA deployment should allow for improved effective management of an SFA system. Thus, there remains a need for research to examine the impact of SFA usage on relationship quality.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The primary objective of this study was to expand understanding of the relative benefits of SFA usage by empirically examining its effects on two key outcomes, customer relationship quality and salesperson performance. This was done through exploring the indirect effects derived through salesperson learning (market information processing) and adaptive selling behaviors. We found that learning behavior mediates the effects of SFA usage on salesperson performance. Thus, our findings suggest that a formula for successful SFA implementation entails one that highlights an SFA usage → learning behavior → relationship quality → salesperson performance sequence. Although the earliest generations of SFA projects typically focused on creating greater efficiency by automating existing sales tasks and streamlining administrative duties (e.g., Wedell & Hempeck, 1987), the major benefits of SFA may lie in its ability to help sales personnel learn and ultimately shape the manner in which they sell. Our findings indicate that adaptive selling has a significant direct influence on both relationship quality and salesperson performance. These results are consistent with previous literature in that they confirm the important role of adaptive selling behavior on improving outcomes (Hunter & Perreault, 2006) and the mediating role of adaptive selling behavior between learning and relationship quality (Selnes & Sallis, 2003) and salesperson performance (Franke & Park, 2006). As anticipated, study findings indicate that market information processing of sales personnel enhances their adaptive selling behaviors and relationships with their customers. These results infer that through information collection, salespeople utilize the information to adapt to the needs, concerns, and behaviors of their customers, as well as enhance the rapport and establish a solid foundation with customers. Thus, salesperson learning is a critical activity to enhance salespersons' interactions with their customers (Chonko et al., 2002). A key aspect of that learning involves marketing information processing vis-à-vis customers and competitors. This study was the first presumably to investigate the association between salespeople's quality of their relationships with customers and performance. Results reveal that the better the relationship between sales personnel and their customers, the higher the level of salesperson performance. This result is compatible with the assertion by Park and Deitz (2006) that a salesperson's working relationship quality has a positive influence on productivity. Accordingly, not only is relationship quality necessary for augmented loyalty and profitability to a firm, but it also has a strong impact on boundary role players' efficaciousness. Interestingly, salespersons' sales experience has minimal significant impact on their usage of SFA or on their adaptive selling behavior. Its impact on these two variables is felt through its influence on market information processing (salesperson learning). The absence of a significant relationship between experience and SFA usage is consistent with some prior work (Ko & Dennis, 2004). An inverse relationship between the two variables was anticipated. Several rationales can be offered for the aforementioned unanticipated result. One explanation pertains to the sample, which is Korean. South Korea is a highly technology-oriented, “wired” nation. Product modifications as well as leading edge innovations are frequently launched. Men are key users of technology in Korea, as they are quick to embrace the latest high-tech tools. Our sample was predominantly male (81%). Korean men, irrespective of their level of experience, may see merit behind SFA tools, owing to their being inured to using technological equipment. Another reason for the foregoing finding is that both more junior and senior sales personnel might view their firms' SFA efforts as facilitating salesperson efforts. Rather than perceiving them as invasive or as impediments, the salesperson respondents believe that SFA is valuable, otherwise the firm would not invest in it. Another alternate idea for the result is that South Korea is a collectivistic country; individuals in such nations focus on doing what is good for the group rather than on self-interest. This perspective may lead Korean sales personnel to perceive that SFA is something that is good for the company, and, therefore, they should use it to benefit the firm. In fact, recent research has found that group dynamics influence Korean salesperson resistance to SFA (Cho & Chang, 2008). As noted above, sales experience has little effect on the degree to which salespeople employ adaptive selling behavior. A positive association between these two variables was expected. Why might this result have emerged? First, the sales experience/adaptive selling behavior nexus might be influenced by the sales situation (Giacobbe et al., 2006). That is, a context requiring adaptation versus a context not requiring adaptation could affect whether sales personnel utilize adaptive selling behavior. Giacobbe et al. (2006) ascertained that experience is positively related to the level of adaptive selling behavior, but only in a context requiring such behavior. Perhaps the selling situation of the focal respondents did not require frequent use of adaptive selling, thus attenuating the positive relationship between experience and degree of adaptive selling behavior. Alternatively, both more and less experienced sales personnel may see merit in adapting to their customers. So, even if more junior sales personnel do not possess the in-depth knowledge structures of their senior counterparts, they are still attempting to adapt their selling behaviors to their clients. Unexpectedly, salespeople's experience is positively related to salesperson market information processing; a negative relationship was expected. Rather than viewing marketing information processing negatively and hesitating to engage in it, more senior sales personnel evidently see the merit in it and conduct such efforts more than their less experienced counterparts. Perhaps experience is necessary for salespeople to realize the advantages of undertaking marketing information processing (and thus enhancing their learning) in a sales environment that calls for adaptation and keen knowledge of customers and competitors.