دانلود مقاله ISI انگلیسی شماره 27749
عنوان فارسی مقاله

نفوذ رسمی و غیر رسمی کنترل های فروش بر روی رفتارهای فروش مشتری هدایت و اثربخشی واحد فروش

کد مقاله سال انتشار مقاله انگلیسی ترجمه فارسی تعداد کلمات
27749 2014 15 صفحه PDF سفارش دهید 12760 کلمه
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عنوان انگلیسی
The influence of formal and informal sales controls on customer-directed selling behaviors and sales unit effectiveness
منبع

Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)

Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 43, Issue 5, July 2014, Pages 786–800

کلمات کلیدی
کنترل های فروش - رفتار فروش مشتری - هدایت - فروش مشتری محور - فروش تطبیقی
پیش نمایش مقاله
پیش نمایش مقاله نفوذ رسمی و غیر رسمی کنترل های فروش بر روی رفتارهای فروش مشتری هدایت و اثربخشی واحد فروش

چکیده انگلیسی

Adaptive selling (AS) and customer-oriented selling (COS) constitute two key customer-directed selling behaviors for the success of the modern sales force. However, knowledge regarding the organizational factors that can induce salespeople to engage in those behaviors is strikingly limited. Against this background, we develop a comprehensive model that delineates the influences of formal and informal sales controls on AS and COS and, through them, on sales unit effectiveness. Based on a sample of sales managers in a major European Union country, we present new evidence that (a) formal and informal sales controls exert differential impact on salespeople's AS and COS behaviors; (b) AS directly and positively influences sales unit effectiveness; (c) COS affects sales unit effectiveness only indirectly, i.e. by fostering AS; and (d) outcome and cultural controls directly improve sales unit effectiveness. We conclude with a discussion of our findings for academics and practitioners.

مقدمه انگلیسی

Mounting meta-analytic evidence consistently indicates that two customer-directed selling behaviors – that is, customer-oriented selling and adaptive selling – are key success factors for improving sales performance (e.g., Franke and Park, 2006, Jaramillo et al., 2007 and Verbeke et al., 2011). Given that both customer-oriented selling (COS, hereafter) and adaptive selling (AS, hereafter) behaviors can be affected by organizational actions (Saxe and Weitz, 1982, Sujan et al., 1988 and Weitz et al., 1986), a logical next step in this line of research would be to explore how organizations can induce salespeople to engage in such behaviors (Franke and Park, 2006 and Jaramillo et al., 2007). Surprisingly, however, very few empirical studies have examined the organizational antecedents of COS or AS (e.g., Ahearne et al., 2005, Guenzi et al., 2011, Schwepker and Good, 2004 and Siguaw et al., 1994). Indeed, the lack of research attention in this area is documented by a recent meta-analysis of AS and COS where no organizational-level antecedent was included (Franke & Park, 2006). Among the various organizational-level factors that may drive salespeople to engage in COS or AS, sales controls constitute important organizational mechanisms since, by definition, they are designed with the objective of shaping salespeople's selling behaviors (Anderson and Oliver, 1987 and Jaworski, 1988). Sales controls are very important for several reasons. They exert a strong influence on a firm's economic performance and its relationships with customers because salespeople operate at the boundaries of a firm (e.g., Albers et al., 2010, Krafft, 1999 and Palmatier et al., 2007). In addition, with regard to the cost structure of many firms, controlling the sales force is vital, since it accounts for the largest portion of marketing personnel and budget (Cravens, Ingram, LaForge, & Young, 1993). Consequently, designing mechanisms for controlling the activities of salespeople is an important area for sales research and practice (Baldauf, Cravens, & Piercy, 2005). Furthermore, there is ample theoretical and empirical evidence pinpointing the importance of controls for improving organizational outcomes (e.g., Anderson and Oliver, 1987, Cravens et al., 1993 and Jaworski, 1988). Noteworthy research on sales management controls over the past two decades includes landmark contributions by Anderson and Oliver (1987), Jaworski (1988), and Challagalla and Shervani (1996). Their work prompted others to conduct further investigation into the consequences of sales control systems, producing a solid body of research. However, recent reviews of the literature on this topic noted that empirical studies led to contradictory or inconsistent findings (Baldauf et al., 2005, Darmon and Martin, 2011 and Panagopoulos and Avlonitis, 2008). More specifically, a critical inspection of past studies examining the role that sales controls play in influencing AS and COS reveals a number of noteworthy gaps (see Table 1).First, the vast majority of the studies have focused on formal sales controls, while paying less attention to the role that informal controls might play in influencing customer-directed selling behaviors. In fact, the only exception is the work of Joshi and Randall (2001). However this study lumps formal and informal controls together and treats them as first-order indicators of a second-order construct termed “organizational controls,” thereby masking the unique influence of each class of control. This lack of attention is worrying because formal and informal controls simultaneously operate in any given organization (Jaworski & MacInnis, 1989). What's more, informal controls are emphasized in the new selling environment (Brown, Evans, Mantrala, & Challagalla, 2005, p. 164) where team/relationship selling behaviors become the norm for connecting with customers. Second, research simultaneously investigating the impact of different types of controls on both AS and COS is extremely limited (Darmon & Martin, 2011). Hence knowledge is lacking because research suggests that different control types might differentially impact salespeople's cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes. Examples are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Miao, Evans, & Zou, 2007), salesperson knowledge and role ambiguity (Miao & Evans, 2012), selling effort and role conflict (Miao & Evans, 2013), as well as problem solving and opportunism (Wang, Dou, & Zhou, 2012). Therefore, a more fine-grained examination of the impact of formal and informal controls on different customer-directed selling behaviors is warranted. Third, past studies examining the impact of sales controls on salespeople's COS and AS behaviors have been operationalized in a manner inconsistent with the original conceptualization of the constructs. Specifically, some research measures the “importance” of customer orientation to the success of the sales force (Cravens et al., 1993) or the salesperson's perceptions of her firm's customer orientation (that is, a dimension of psychological climate (Evans et al., 2007). But these studies neglect to address the extent to which COS is practiced (Saxe & Weitz, 1982). In fact, in almost all research (see the review of Baldauf et al., 2005), sales controls are linked either to a composite measure of sales force behavioral performance of which AS is just one item (Babakus et al., 1996, Baldauf et al., 2001, Baldauf et al., 2002, Grant and Cravens, 1996, Piercy et al., 1998, Piercy et al., 1999 and Piercy et al., 2004) or to a composite measure of behavioral strategy. This, among other things, includes two items measuring customer focus (Baldauf et al., 2001). Hence, current measurement practices of COS and AS in the extant literature make it rather difficult to infer the true nature of their relationships with sales controls. These three knowledge gaps are well summarized by Schepers, Falk, de Ruyter, de Jong, and Hammerschmidt (2012, p. 1), who point out, “Few empirical studies offer guidance about how control systems relate to specific types of employee behavior. … Extant marketing control studies that consider informal controls together with formal counterparts tend to report ambiguous results about effects on individual performance (e.g., Challagalla and Shervani, 1996 and Cravens et al., 2004), perhaps because their often generic performance measures commingle different employee behaviors.” Starting from this observation, the authors called for finer-grained investigations into the behavioral effects of controls. Finally, results concerning the relationships between sales controls and customer-directed selling behaviors are not unequivocal in the extant literature. In particular, whereas some studies suggest that sales controls are significantly related to COS or AS (e.g., Baldauf et al., 2001, Oliver and Anderson, 1994 and Oliver and Anderson, 1995) there is also evidence showing that these relationships are not significant (e.g., Evans et al., 2007 and Miao and Evans, 2013). In sum, despite the fact that COS and AS are increasingly becoming key determinants of salesperson success, the question still persists whether formal or informal sales controls may foster or discourage the practice of COS and AS. Providing an answer to this question constitutes the main objective and contribution of this study. A second contribution of this study is that it links formal and informal sales controls – as well as customer-directed selling behaviors – to sales unit effectiveness. We do so because the ultimate test of the effectiveness of a control mechanism is the extent to which one can establish that a relationship exists between the control mechanism in use and organizational effectiveness (Jaworski, 1988). To the best of our knowledge, however, past studies have focused solely on examining the influence of formal sales controls on sales unit effectiveness (see Baldauf et al., 2005) thereby leaving unanswered the question of whether or not informal controls affect sales unit performance. In addition, the extant literature reveals mixed meta-analytic support for the relationship between COS behaviors and sales performance ( Franke and Park, 2006 and Jaramillo et al., 2007). As one plausible reconciling mechanism, here we draw on recent research ( Jaramillo et al., 2007) and posit an indirect impact of COS on performance via an increase in AS. We now turn to presenting the hypothesized framework and the theoretical foundations of our study.

نتیجه گیری انگلیسی

The practice of COS and AS behaviors has been heralded as key to achieving results in a relational era where salespeople are expected to contribute to a company's competitive advantage by building and nurturing value-adding relationships with customers (e.g., Franke and Park, 2006 and Jaramillo et al., 2007). Compared with “traditional” selling activities, however, COS and AS require salespeople to expend a greater amount of effort during and across customer interactions (Saxe and Weitz, 1982 and Spiro and Weitz, 1990). Consequently, organizations need to motivate salespeople to engage in these selling behaviors. Unfortunately, very few empirical studies have examined the organizational antecedents of COS or AS, as documented by a recent meta-analysis of AS and COS where no organizational-level antecedent was included (Franke & Park, 2006). Therefore, identifying factors which companies can leverage to stimulate COS and AS seems to be an important issue for both sales academics and managers. In this study, we shed light on the influence of formal and informal sales controls on COS and AS, a topic that has received very limited research attention despite the fact that sales controls, by definition, are designed with the objective to shape salespeople's selling behaviors (Anderson and Oliver, 1987 and Jaworski, 1988). Considering our findings we make several contributions to the extant literature. First, we add to the current body of literature on sales controls by simultaneously investigating the influence of both formal and informal controls on COS and AS behaviors. As mentioned, past studies have paid less attention to examining the role that informal controls might play in influencing customer-directed selling behaviors. This lack of attention is not justifiable because both formal and informal controls operate in a given organization (Jaworski & MacInnis, 1989). Moreover, prior work has typically analyzed the impact of sales controls on aggregate measures of salespeople's behavioral performance/strategy of which AS or COS is just one item (e.g., Babakus et al., 1996 and Baldauf et al., 2001). This is an oversimplification of reality since research has shown that salespeople perform numerous activities (Moncrief, Marshall, & Lassk, 2006). Managers, however, need to know how to stimulate specific sets of behaviors through the design and implementation of the “right” sales control mechanisms. Similarly, scholars need to deepen their understanding of how sales controls influence different facets of a salesperson's behavioral performance. Here we provide evidence that different control mechanisms (formal vs. informal) exert a differential impact on COS and AS. In particular, we find that output and cultural controls increase COS, whereas process and professional controls foster AS. This is an interesting observation since it presents new evidence that different customer-directed selling behaviors have different antecedents. We speculate that this finding is grounded in the different nature and functioning of these two classes of behaviors. In fact, COS is concerned with the implementation of a company's market orientation at the level of the salesperson. As such, it is expected to be affected mainly by general, corporate-level informal controls like cultural control, compared to professional control, which refers to an organizational sub-group. Similarly, an output-based control implies that the customer is king (Anderson & Onyemah, 2006) thereby stimulating COS behaviors. This finding contributes to the debate on the impact of sales controls on COS, which is characterized by conflicting conceptual arguments and inconclusive empirical evidence on the topic (e.g., Anderson and Oliver, 1987 and Schwepker and Good, 2012). In the case of AS, it is the amount and type of adaptation which will ultimately affect performance. In other words, adaptation per se may not necessarily drive better results: it is how adaptation is practiced (also by salespeople through AS) that will eventually make a difference. For example, Eckert (2006) points out that salespeople may practice different forms of AS: adaptation of information, communication, the process, and the solution offered to the customers. As such, process control is needed as a formal control mechanism to stimulate the “right” degree and type of adaptation. Professional control, instead, may provide more informed, fine-grained guidelines and feedback on whether and how to practice AS with every customer, and may also re-direct salespeople behaviors when relevant deviations occur. A second key finding of our study is that the network of relationships among COS, AS, and sales unit performance is more complex than is currently assumed in most of the extant literature. In fact, supporting the speculation made by Jaramillo et al. (2007), our results show that COS does not necessarily improve performance in and of itself. This is also consistent with the meta-analysis of Franke and Park (2006), in which the hypothesized positive relationship between COS and sales performance was not supported. In fact, we find that COS increases sales unit effectiveness indirectly by stimulating AS. Practicing market orientation at the level of the individual salesperson (i.e., practicing COS) can be interpreted as a sort of “hygiene” factor whose absence may create dissatisfaction (ultimately hurting performance), but whose presence isn't enough to guarantee market success. Instead, practicing COS paves the way for AS, which will ultimately improve sales unit effectiveness. This is also consistent with meta-analytical evidence showing that COS and AS are different constructs (Franke & Park, 2006). To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first study confirming this path after the seminal observation made by Jaramillo et al. (2007). We believe this aspect deserves future investigation and may stimulate a fruitful dialog among academics and practitioners on the relationships between different selling behaviors and organizational performance. Third, our findings also show that output control and cultural control directly improve sales unit effectiveness, in addition to their indirect influence through COS and AS. This contribution should not be underestimated because empirical evidence of this type is surprisingly limited (see Baldauf et al., 2005 and Darmon and Martin, 2011). Importantly, the issue of whether informal sales controls influence sales unit effectiveness has not been adequately covered in the extant literature. Conceptually, control mechanisms should affect performance for a number of reasons beyond the impact on key mediating variables, such as COS and AS in our model. In particular, output control can boost sales unit effectiveness by increasing hours worked whereas cultural control may increase sales unit effectiveness by fostering sales team relationships and ultimately performance. Because no single study can incorporate all possible mediating variables, we suggest that future researchers should consider testing the direct paths from control mechanisms to organizational performance. Finally, our study reports findings from sales managers operating in a European context. Hence, we add to the stream of research results obtained outside the US. Since internationalization activities are key managerial and academic priorities (e.g. Panagopoulos et al., 2011), this contribution should not go unnoticed.

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