چرا فروش تکراری باید از فناوری اطلاعات استقبال کند؛ اندازه گیری تاثیر مدیریت ارتباط با مشتری (CRM) مبتنی بر IT بر اثربخشی فروش
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|932||2007||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||1 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Research in Marketing, Volume 24, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 336–349
This study seeks to answer the following question: Can sales representatives enhance their performance through their acceptance of information technology (IT) tools? Using data collected from two companies, we show that despite uncertain results and the frequent resistance among salespeople to IT interventions, IT acceptance indeed has a positive effect on sales performance. This occurs because salespeople using IT expand their knowledge and, in turn, gain improved targeting abilities, enhanced presentation skills, and increased call productivity. Thus, sales representatives have a strong incentive to accept IT because doing so is likely to sharpen their own job performance.
The theoretical importance of customer relationship management (CRM) is well established in the marketing literature, and though there have been conflicting results in both academic research and the business environment, recent empirical studies have demonstrated that there is a positive relationship between CRM practices and firm performance (Boulding, Staelin, Ehret, & Johnston, 2005). The practical challenge, however, lies in how well employees in the firm adopt and implement CRM-based tactics. Indeed, some research suggests that up to 70% of CRM initiatives result in either losses or no improvement in company performance, largely as a result of deficiencies in implementation (Reinartz, Krafft, & Hoyer, 2004). According to Reinartz et al. (2004, p. 293), CRM is the “systematic process to manage customer relationship initiation, maintenance, and termination across all customer contact points to maximize the value of the relationship portfolio.” Given CRM's expansive nature, we heed the call of Boulding et al. (2005) that further research should delve into specific areas within CRM rather than more macro-level concerns. Our research is centered on operational CRM (Tanner, Ahearne, Leigh, Mason, & Moncrief, 2005) and, more specifically, on acceptance by the sales force of related information technology (IT) that supports the customer-interacting aspects of the firm. Such technology includes sales force automation tools pertaining to lead management, opportunity management, customer-contact management, sales forecasting, and so forth (Tanner et al., 2005). We define “IT acceptance” as the degree to which a salesperson integrates IT tools into his or her sales activities. More specifically, this concept pertains to the frequency of technology usage, the full usage of the applications' capabilities, the level of integrated and complementary use of different tools, and the usage of technology for analysis purposes. Most scholars and practitioners would agree that IT plays a prominent, even essential role in the operationalization of CRM. For example, Reinartz et al. (2004) identify technology as a key facilitator of CRM activities, and Jayachandran, Sharma, Kaufman, and Raman (2005) demonstrate that technology performs an important role by influencing relational information processes within the context of CRM. However, the existence of such technology is not sufficient; after all, someone must use it. The sales organization's ability and willingness to use IT tools are critical to the ultimate success or failure of the CRM initiative (Babakus et al., 1996 and Van Bruggen and Wierenga, 2005), and this is especially true in a business-to-business environment in which the sales force is the primary point of contact between buying and selling entities. In their recent meta-analysis on relationship marketing, Palmatier, Dant, Grewal, and Evans (2006) argue that successful customer relationship marketing depends on effective selection and training of boundary spanners and that salesperson expertise and communication represent two of the firm's most important relationship-building strategies. Our study explores how IT acceptance influences salesperson performance through mechanisms that enhance both expertise and communication. In this study, we suggest, support, and empirically demonstrate that IT acceptance aids salesperson performance by improving knowledge, targeting skills, sales presentation skills, and call productivity. In doing so, we add value to both practice and research through a stronger understanding of the link between IT and performance and its underlying mediating processes. Moreover, if we can show that IT acceptance enhances sales performance, a strong incentive is created for both sales managers and sales reps to accept future IT interventions because the likelihood of obtaining performance-based bonuses increases. In general, management assumes that supplying IT tools, such as sales force automation software, will contribute to higher levels of productivity, better customer communication, and enhanced customer relationships (e.g., Campbell, 1998, Colombo, 1994, Conlon, 1999, Goldenberg, 1996 and Moncrief et al., 1991). Indeed, although the relationship between IT and sales performance remains largely unsubstantiated, many organizations spend considerable resources in equipping their sales forces with IT. A recent industry report by the Aberdeen Group estimates that more than $27 billion is spent annually on sales force-related CRM software (Gaither, 2005). However, organizations need to justify these substantial investments and can no longer afford to continue to invest in sales technology as a matter of blind faith alone. Moncrief et al.'s (1991) study reveals that “up-front investments in technology” and “expected performance increases” (or the lack thereof) are the most cited reasons for companies not to invest in laptops for the sales force. Further complicating the issue is the frequent resistance of sales personnel to new technology (e.g., Simon and Usunier, 2007 and Speier and Venkatesh, 2002). Despite all this, there is a dearth of academic research on the effects of technology on salesperson performance. The effect of IT on more macro-levels of performance and productivity has captured the attention of several academics. Many studies have assessed the effects of IT investments on productivity at the economy/industry level (e.g., Baily and Chakrabarti, 1988, Bresnahan, 1986 and Osterman, 1986) or the firm level (e.g., Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 1993 and Wierenga and Ophuis, 1997). However, the findings from these studies are mixed and have led to the ongoing debate of the so-called IT-productivity paradox (Brynjolfsson and Yang, 1996, Mooney et al., 1996 and Pinsonneault and Rivard, 1998). Several study limitations have fed this paradox. For example, some studies do not account for the intermediate and intangible benefits of IT and consequently provide little insight into how IT can add value. From a methodological standpoint, the “technology–performance” relationship may be blurred because of the use of data across firms or industries. Another stream of research has investigated the impact of information systems on individual (decision) performance in laboratory settings (DeLone and McLean, 1992 and Sharda et al., 1988) or on white-collar workers in general (Millman and Hartwick, 1987, Pinsonneault and Kraemer, 1993 and Sulek and Maruchek, 1992). Still, few empirical attempts have been made to investigate the effects of IT on individuals and their work performance (Palmquist, 1992 and Torkzadeh and Doll, 1999). Studies in this stream of research have also generated mixed results (e.g., DeLone and McLean, 1992 and Sharda et al., 1988) and are limited by common method variance and the use of self-reported perceptions of individual performance and IT use (Igbaria, 1990 and Igbaria and Tan, 1997). The sales literature reveals only a few studies on sales technology. These studies focus on the adoption of sales technology (e.g., Gatignon and Robertson, 1989, Jones et al., 2002 and Schillewaert et al., 2005) or retrospectively examine salesperson failure to adopt technology and the consequences for organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and fit (Speier & Venkatesh, 2002). A few studies have considered technology and sales performance, but they either lack solid empirical data (e.g., Collins and Schibrowsky, 1990, Moriarty and Swartz, 1989, Wedell and Hempeck, 1987 and Zabiah et al., 2004) or use descriptive perceptional data of sales managers or salespeople (Keillor et al., 1997 and Moncrief et al., 1991). Some studies, such as that of Ko and Dennis (2004) which links sales technology, salesperson performance, experience, and expertise using multi-source data, and the study by Ahearne, Srinivasan, and Weinstein (2004) which suggests a curvilinear relationship between sales performance and technology use, have examined the direct link between IT use and sales performance, but have not examined the facilitating mechanisms through which this link occurs. Still, given the prominence of CRM as a strategic lever in today's business environment and IT's pivotal role in CRM systems (e.g., Jayachandran et al., 2005 and Payne and Frow, 2005), additional studies are needed to thoroughly examine the impact of IT on individual salesperson performance (Marshall, Moncrief, & Lassk, 1999) and to understand the underlying mechanisms of IT use and salesperson performance. The current study investigates whether and how IT helps salespeople perform better, and it alleviates the major limitations of previous research by studying these phenomena within a “controlled” setting (i.e., tests in two industries, not a cross-section of industries) and by using multiple data sources rather than single-source self-reported perceptions. We develop and test a theory of technology and salesperson performance in two study sites from different industries. Our model includes mediating variables that reflect the benefits of sales technology. Finally, we discuss the results and implications of the study and provide suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study's findings support the overall assertion that a salesperson who integrates IT tools into his or her sales activities can significantly improve his or her performance and achieve underlying efficiency gains and information-based benefits, sales skills, and behaviors. This is an important empirical finding given the ongoing debate on the link between IT and performance (i.e., the IT-productivity paradox) and continued investments by companies in advanced sales technology. The results also support early evidence of productivity gains due to sales automation (Moriarty and Swartz, 1989 and Rivers and Dart, 1999). Although the amount of variance explained by the direct effect of sales technology may seem rather low, the effect is “robust” because it links different data sources (i.e., IT acceptance by the salesperson, salesperson evaluations by the sales manager, and performance data from archival records) and is confirmed in two industry settings. In addition, the amount of variance explained in salesperson performance compares favorably with the individual contributions made by other variables in previous sales studies (Churchill et al., 1985). Assessing the mediating process behind the overall direct relationship between IT and salesperson performance helps in the understanding of “how” IT may be beneficial at the level of the individual sales representative. Specifically, salespeople using IT expand their knowledge and, in turn, gain improved targeting skills and enhanced presentation skills; they are also able to increase their call productivity. Information technology applications aid salespeople's information processing and enable them to update their understanding of important business relationships (Huber, 1990). They also help salespeople improve their technical knowledge with respect to their products and their ability to compare and analyze their product's standing against competitive products. Because greater market knowledge leads to a keener sense of the potential customer base and segments, salespeople can focus their efforts accordingly and target customers who are most likely to fit the sales organization's offerings. Salespeople who can focus their efforts on customers who are qualified and ready to buy are better able to achieve quotas. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to assess salesperson targeting as a sales skill, and thus no empirical benchmark for this relationship exists. Nevertheless, our study supports the widely accepted assumption of the importance of effective prospecting and the Pareto principle in a personal sales setting. In addition, when salespeople have greater insight into their markets and products, they are more effective in communicating their value proposition and thus can make more compelling sales presentations to elicit favorable reactions from buyers. It is important to note that a salesperson's knowledge levels and sales presentation accomplishments are often regarded as dimensions of “behavioral” performance (Behrman and Perreault, 1982 and Ingram and LaForge, 1997). To our knowledge, our study is also the first to provide estimates of the linkage between behavioral and objective output performance. Similar to the impact on targeting and presentation skills, our data suggest that technology-led knowledge improvements favorably affect call productivity. Greater knowledge about the market and competitive offers enable salespeople to make more calls in a given period. In addition, our findings empirically support Moriarty and Swartz's (1989) suggestion that technology should reduce time spent on non-selling tasks, such as scheduling sales calls, updating customer records, compiling sales reports, and assembling market information. The positive effect of call productivity on sales performance is consistent with previous research regarding the influence of effort/motivation on sales outcomes (Brown and Peterson, 1994 and Churchill et al., 1985). Buyer–seller exchanges rely heavily on cumulative face-to-face communication and interpersonal contact. As mentioned previously, when salespeople increase the number of sales calls they can make, they are more likely to achieve their quotas. This study has important implications for sales management. The positive relationship between IT and performance and the intermediate benefits provide a good justification for the implementation of IT into the sales force. In other words, if a company invests in IT, improvements in salesperson behavior and performance can be achieved. This study also helps organizations quantify some of the intangible benefits associated with providing the sales force with technology, an issue that has proved to be difficult (Rivers & Dart, 1999). Furthermore, when salespeople can see the positive outcomes of IT acceptance among their colleagues, they may value these tools more highly and be willing to invest in the effort necessary to learn to use them and regularly incorporate them into their daily activities. This study shows that sales representatives have a strong incentive to accept IT because doing so is likely to sharpen their own job performance. The findings herein imply that companies should intentionally recruit salespeople who have the ability to apply computer technologies to their daily activities. Similarly, training efforts should emphasize information gathering and communication by means of advanced information technologies. Companies could actively involve high-performing, IT-savvy salespeople in this training process. Such an approach could also enhance salespeople's attitudes toward and comfort level with all relevant sales technologies.