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date: 14 May 2021

Overview of Strategic Sales and Sales Management

Abstract and Keywords

This book provides a snapshot of the current thinking on the strategic role of sales and sales management, and identifies some of the key challenges presented to senior managers. The importance of a sales organization continues to be critical in creating value, and profits for organizations. Escalating sales and selling costs require organizations to be more focused on results and highlight the shifting of resources from marketing to sales, and the growth in customer power now requires a strategic, not a tactical response. This book provides an unrivalled collection of articles by the leading academics in the field of sales and marketing management. Sales is experiencing a renaissance driven by a number of factors including building profitable relationships, creating/delivering value, strategic customer management, sales and marketing relationships, global selling, and the change from transactional to customer relationship selling.

Keywords: sales, sales management, strategic customer management, marketing relationships, global selling

1.1 Introduction

The Oxford Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management is a compendium of chapters by prominent academics addressing some of the most important issues in the field of sales management and sales strategy. It is produced in four parts. The contributors are practicing academics, mostly currently researching in the area in which they have written their chapters for the Handbook. The book is part of an important series of Handbooks that Oxford University Press is developing across the social sciences and humanities, including several in business and management. These Handbooks address key topics in their field and identify the evolution of debates and research on these topics. However, this is the first time that the Handbook series has addressed any marketing issues, and beginning with the (p. 2) critical element of sales and sales practices is appropriate, as one of the earliest business texts to gain popular appeal was on sales, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936).

The Oxford Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management is targeted at academics, researchers, and graduate students, for whom it should be a useful resource, sitting between the specialist journal article or monograph and the extensive range of established textbooks in the field. It is intended to provide the graduate student, researcher, or lecturer with a well‐informed and authoritative guide to the subject and to the current debates taking place in the field of sales management, and is a blend of mature thinking and cutting‐edge speculation. Teachers of sales management and strategy will find much of the traditional material for their presentations contained in the Handbook, as well as illustrations of how to introduce the newer issues of debate in their teaching.

Operating in the very competitive and rapidly changing global business environment requires creating and delivering superior customer value. Many companies are pursuing strategic transformations to compete effectively in a challenging business environment. The success of these efforts is likely to require significant transformations within a firm's sales organization. Important changes may include (Piercy and Lane 2005):

  • involvement in strategic decision making at the corporate and business strategy levels;

  • market sensing and analysis;

  • building cross‐functional collaborative relationships;

  • serving as the customer's advocate inside the organization.

Sales organizations need to strategically align their operations with the firm's business and marketing strategies to create a more customer‐focused sales organization (Sheth and Sharma 2008). The number of people in sales and sales‐related jobs totaled over 16 million in the United States in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. Global sales jobs totals are far greater. The numbers of staff and the expenditure involved in the sales function highlight its importance and priority in the organization.

The Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management provides an in‐depth examination of sales organization strategy, sales management processes, the sales force and the customer, and organizational relationships. The interrelationships of these topics are shown in Figure 1.1. The various chapters offer an important state‐of‐the‐art perspective concerning sales management and sales strategy. The chapter authors are recognized experts on the various topics in the Handbook. A brief overview of the chapters in each of the four parts follows.

Overview of Strategic Sales and Sales Management

1.1. Sales Strategy and Management Processes

(p. 3)

1.2 Sales Strategy and Environment

Sales force strategy “consists of a set of strategic decisions that determine to whom the sales force will sell and the role of the sales force in creating customer value which is consistent with the overall strategy of the firm and/or business unit” (Cron and Cravens 2010: 21). Importantly, sales force strategy is linked to business units and marketing strategies in an interconnected set of relationships. In this section we overview several important aspects of sales force strategy which are examined in Part I of the Handbook. Also considered are the dynamic sales environment and a global perspective concerning selling and sales management.

1.2.1 The Evolution of the Strategic Sales Organization

An important change which has occurred during the last decade in many sales organizations is a shift away from a tactical focus to a strategic emphasis. Chapter 2 examines these imperatives and their implications. Nigel F. Piercy and Nikala Lane detail how sales organizations are becoming more involved in business and marketing strategies, and conclude that the emergence of the strategic sales organization can be explained by several factors: changing customer relationship requirements; the changing sales task; and, the importance of strategic sales capabilities to cope with complexity, growing customer sophistication, commoditization pressures, and the need for radically different selling approaches. The characteristics of the strategic sales organization are discussed in terms of the factors significant in developing a new sales domain and those exercising a broader shaping influence on how a strategic sales organization will function. The bottom line is that sales organizations are changing rapidly, and transformations are expected to continue in the future. Strategic transformation impacts salespeople (p. 4) and managers, requiring training and career development initiatives to meet new role expectations. These new challenges will require considerable thought about the capabilities and competencies required by sales executives.

1.2.2 Strategic Leadership in Sales

Chapter 3 examines the important relationship between the role of the salesperson and the role of sales managers. Karen Flaherty considers how these roles vary across organizations, noting a distinct trend toward the salesperson's role including involvement in shaping strategy. The result is that the salesperson's job has changed to meet new role expectations. Salesperson strategic roles can be characterized as competence deployment, competence modification, and competence definition. These roles call for different capabilities and perspectives concerning the sales force. Successful strategic sales leadership requires the utilization of management perspectives and processes that correspond best with the current environment, required salesperson roles, and the strategic direction of the organization. An integrative framework for sales leadership is proposed. Matching the salesperson's role in the sales organization with the appropriate leadership approach is critically important in delivering superior customer value and organizational performance. The framework examines three alternative leadership modes: command, coach, and sponsor.

1.2.3 Achieving Sales Organization Effectiveness

David W. Cravens writes with considerable authority on the sales organization and how sales is an important contributor to achieving business and marketing objectives. The organization's effectiveness can be measured based on sales, market position, customer satisfaction, and profits, relative to competition and internal objectives. Effectiveness is a summary assessment of the sales organization's outcomes, and may be determined for the entire organization or for smaller units such as regions and districts. Sales unit effectiveness is a composite assessment of the unit's performance. Importantly, effectiveness and salesperson performance are different although closely related constructs. The salesperson contributes to unit effectiveness along with other determinants including the sales manager, business competencies, and the market and competitive environment (Walker, Churchill, and Ford 1979).

In Chapter 4, a conceptual framework for analysis and decision‐making concerning sales organization effectiveness is proposed and examined. Important determinants of effectiveness are discussed including sales management control, salesperson performance, and sales unit design. Sales management is a core (p. 5) determinant of effectiveness, including management processes, design of the organization, and manager performance. Each salesperson also contributes to effectiveness. Also considered are research findings concerning sales personnel gender.

1.2.4 The Changing Sales Environment

Nick Lee reviews the rapidly changing business environment, and highlights it as an important and challenging influence on sales organizations. Chapter 5 examines the dynamic environment impacting the sales organization. A core characteristic of the changing sales environment is its complexity. Dimensions of the environment include globalization, changes in channel delivery and information provision, customer co‐production and de‐massification of the marketplace, hyper‐competition and buyer concentration, sales force automation, customer expectations, ethics expectations, and increased emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace. Each of these environmental forces interacts with the others, significantly compounding analysis of the effects on the sales organization.

A number of key changes in the contemporary business and social environment are examined and their implications regarding sales and sales management research and practice are discussed. A relevant and recognized implication is a move toward a more relationship‐oriented focus for the sales force. Psychological levels of analysis are considered from the perspective of the individual salesperson or sales manager, possible dyads, teams, and stakeholder or wider society. An interesting perspective is developed regarding the potential for biological and neuroscientific insights into sales force performance and behavior.

1.3 Sales Management

In this section we overview several relevant sales management topics that are discussed in Part II of the Handbook. Sales management has changed out of all recognition over the past twenty years, partly due to the increasing competition and spiraling costs of running a sales team, but also due to rapid development of communication technologies that could not be envisaged twenty years ago. Therefore, a review of up‐to‐date techniques and developments is timely. The chapters examine sales organization designs, sales force market sensing, contracted sales forces, salesperson motivation and training, job stress, and sales force size and effort allocation.

(p. 6) 1.3.1 Structuring the Sales Force for Customer and Company Success

Structure follows strategy, according to Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer. Chapter 6 provides a complete analysis of organizing the sales force for customer and company success. A framework is developed to guide the design and management of the sales organization that is consistent with company strategy and drives results. The sales force's requirements for generalists and/or specialists are guided by the firm's product offerings, markets served, and selling activities.

Sales force structure decisions impact customer and company results by directly influencing salespeople and their activities. Developing an effective sales force organization design requires:

  • determining the mix of generalists and product, market, or activity specialists that creates the right balance of sales force effectiveness and efficiency;

  • designing reporting relationships for salespeople and managers that enable coordination and control of sales activities and processes;

  • pursuing initiatives such as training, incentives, coaching, performance management, and information support to reduce stress and encourage the accomplishment of business objectives.

Sales force structures need to change as business needs evolve. Directing careful attention to implementation helps ensure that sales force structure alterations are well received by customers, salespeople, and managers.

1.3.2 Sales Force‐Generated Marketing Intelligence

Challenges abound for management to obtain the desired type, frequency, and quality of market information from the organization's sales force. In Chapter 7 Kenneth R. Evans and C. Fred Miao look at the role of the sales force in the marketing information system (MIS). Sales force‐generated marketing intelligence is guided by important antecedents which are categorized according to factors associated with the firm and the individual level. Antecedents at the firm level include organizational culture, sales force control philosophy, training, job descriptions, compensation, and rewards. Relevant personal‐level antecedents consist of role conflict and role ambiguity.

Key dimensions of sales force intelligence are new product planning and development, sales forecasting, competitive strategy, pricing strategy, and territorial customer knowledge. The challenge is to integrate the sales force into the MIS. Information generated by the sales force must be captured and disseminated across functional boundaries. The MIS contributes to important sales force strategic options such as customer relationship management. The process of obtaining the (p. 7) desired type, frequency, and quality of market information from the field sales force is an important management responsibility.

1.3.3 Management of a Contracted Sales Force

Outsourcing all or part of a firm's sales function is a critical strategic decision. In Chapter 8, Thomas E. DeCarlo examines the advantages and disadvantages of using manufacturer's representatives, and develops a framework for managing and compensating independent agents. Strategic decisions concerning whether the selling function should be performed using a company sales force, an outsourced partner, or some combination of the two will have an important impact on a firm's competitive advantage. Commission‐compensated representatives do not take title of the product, do not set prices, usually do not handle merchandise, and do not sell competing products. However, they typically sell non‐competing products.

Several factors affect the decision to outsource the sales force, including the feasibility of building commitment with the independent representative, market coverage efficiencies, and selling effectiveness. Several advantages are offered including stability of the rep, market (customer) focused agility, portfolio selling capabilities, and risk reduction. Certain challenges are involved in managing the relationship. A different set of management competencies is required compared to a conventional in‐house sales force. Motivating and compensating representatives are important management responsibilities for the principals.

1.3.4 Training and Rewards

Mark W. Johnston provides a critical review of two of the most important responsibilities of the sales manager: providing the programs and support for salespeople to improve critical skills, and creating a reward platform that motivates salespeople and encourages success, while offering financial security. Creating effective training programs and a reward system for salespeople are demanding responsibilities facing every sales manager. Companies spend billions on training every year. More than a few sales managers and human resource professionals find it difficult to identify the long‐term benefits of the training. Moreover, the question of reward systems is faced by every sales manager as she/he wrestles with individual circumstances, limited budgets, competitive pressure, and customer concerns.

Training and reward initiatives are complicated when salespeople are geographically deployed. In Chapter 9 a plan is presented for developing and assessing successful training programs. The discussion includes the importance of setting objectives, developing programs that actually add value to the sales force, and creating relevant and useful success metrics. A winning reward strategy is defined, (p. 8) and a process is developed to create an action plan for implementing the strategy. Sales managers need to balance the effectiveness of individual reward systems with the efficiency of “one size fits all”.

1.3.5 Addressing Job Stress in the Sales Force

The importance of job stress in the sales force is considered by Thomas N. Ingram, Raymond W. (Buddy) LaForge, and Charles H. Schwepker, Jr. to be an important management concern in many sales organizations. The complex business environment faces salespeople with escalating demands and expectations. There is continuous pressure to perform in the sales forces of most organizations. Stress is further compounded as salespeople regularly face non‐routine situations, and often must work without the support that comes with supervision on a daily basis. The objective of Chapter 10 is to examine the antecedents and consequences of job stress and to consider initiatives for reducing job stress among salespeople. While eliminating job stress in most sales organizations may be unfeasible, impractical, or even undesirable, the major negative effects of job stress require management initiatives to gain a reasonable level of control over salespeople's job stress

A framework of salesperson job stress is developed including antecedents, role stressors, and consequences. Role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload are proposed as the key dimensions of salesperson job stress. Role conflict occurs when salespeople face competing (and sometimes conflicting) demands from role partners such as customers and employers. Role ambiguity occurs when salespeople are not certain about actions they should take. Role overload is the perception that role demands are overwhelming relative to available resources (Brown, Jones, & Leigh 2005).

1.3.6 Sizing the Sales Force and Designing Sales Territories for Results

The second chapter written by Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer provides a contemporary review of how many salespeople are needed in the sales force and how the allocation of their efforts across the customer base have a significant impact on each salesperson, their customers, and the company results. Too many or too few salespeople will lead to negative consequences. Importantly, using commonsense affordability‐based decision rules typically does not result in sound size and effort allocation decisions. In Chapter 11, a market‐based decision process for size and allocation decisions is proposed and applied. Determining the appropriate relationship between sales force size and customer and product coverage is a major determinant of the productivity of the sales organization.

(p. 9) Five quick tests are discussed for use in assessing the correct size of the sales force. A synthesis of the results provides a basis for making a final sizing assessment. A break‐even test is used to determine whether a sales force is too large, too small, or about right. Importantly, a sales force that is the right size must also have sales territories that are designed to match sales effort with market opportunity. Salesperson efforts must be allocated to customer needs, and territories formed that balance workload across territories. Unfortunately, territory design often receives inadequate attention from management. Structured processes and methods are discussed to guide sales territory design decisions.

1.4 The Sales Force and the Customer

In Part III of the Handbook we discuss several customer‐related topics. Customers, whether business‐to‐business or end users, are becoming more discerning and are demanding more from their suppliers. The sales force is an invaluable intermediary between the organization and this group. These chapters examine some of the more challenging aspects of the role of sales, including customer selection, customer relationship management, organizational climate in sales force research, buyer decision‐making, and sales technology.

1.4.1 Customer Selection to Acquire, Retain, and Grow

Identifying the right customers to acquire, retain, and grow is a demanding management task which has escalated in complexity over the last decade. In Chapter 12, Andrea L. Dixon synthesizes current knowledge in the area of customer management, and encourages the organization to be proactive in this essential role, which is an important contributor to business success. Addressed is the necessary task of how the organization should identify the right customers from the existing customer base.

The available metrics used for customer analysis and decision‐making are reviewed, and the relevant measurement issues associated with the composite profitability measure, customer lifetime value (CLV), are examined. CLV can contribute important insights in selecting the right customers to include in the organization's portfolio. The process of identifying and developing the right customers is examined in depth. The need to sometimes terminate a relationship is also explored and evaluated. Customer portfolio analysis is discussed extensively. Significant value is gained from systematic customer assessment for acquiring, (p. 10) growing, and retaining the best mix of customers to generate the strongest return on investment. The process of managing the customer portfolio guides the firm in directing the right marketing efforts to the most appropriate marketing strategies.

1.4.2 Customer Relationship Management and the Sales Force

Customer relationship management (CRM) is reviewed by Thomas W. Leigh. Increasing the value of the firm's customer base by developing and managing better relationships with customers is an essential management function. Chapter 13 examines the role of the direct sales force as a core enterprise strategy and capability relative to the organization's CRM system. The CRM models implied by product leadership, cost leadership, and customer intimacy strategies are discussed. These CRM models provide a basis for defining the role of the sales force compared to alternative go‐to‐market channels in accessing and relating to customers.

A customer relationship framework is presented for positioning the sales force relative to CRM strategy and practices. The role of the sales force is examined for four customer archetypes: transactional, solution selling, relationship selling, and strategic partnerships (Wotruba 1991). Market‐driven companies are likely to be more competent in organizational learning about markets and customers compared to internally‐oriented competitors. In examining this issue, the role of the direct sales force is discussed concerning four specific CRM processes: market sensing, customer sensing, customer linking, and cross‐functional spanning. A core set of CRM capabilities and processes are identified. Importantly, shifting from transactional to relational buyer–seller involves complex changes in salesperson and organizational strategies.

1.4.3 The Use of Organizational Climate in Sales Force Research

Steven P. Brown, Manoshi Samaraweera, and William Zhan examine how achieving competitive advantage with a superior sales force involves doing many things well. Applying formal and informal control mechanisms, salespeople's efforts need to be directed toward the most productive activities to gain and maintain productive customer relationships. Chapter 14 considers informal control mechanisms based on organizational climate as a means of guiding salespeople's efforts toward organizational priorities. The relationship is examined between formal control systems and the informal control function inherent in the organizational climate. Building on the work of Schneider (1990, 2000), to be useful, organizational climate must be strategically focused and serve a directive function in the allocation of effort toward organizational goals.

(p. 11) Two aspects of organizational climate are particularly relevant in sales force contexts: climate for service and sales climate. The former is well established in the literature, whereas the latter is a construct developed in this chapter. Prior research has been focused on a single aspect of organizational climate (e.g. climate for service, climate for safety, climate for diversity). No research has considered the interrelationships between multiple aspects of climate or their individual and joint effects on disparate performance criteria. Given the need to perform well on multiple dimensions, it is important to understand how supportive control elements can be developed to foster multi‐dimensional performance effectiveness.

1.4.4 Salespeople's Influence an Consumers' and Business Buyers' Goals and Wellbeing

It has been considered important to help salespeople acquire a clearer understanding of their customer's perceptions and views. However, research in social cognitive psychology suggests that behavior is only sometimes tactically motivated; instead, customers may be unaware of their own goals until they have acted. In Chapter 15, Harish Sujan evaluates the influence of persuasion tactics, separating out buyer behavior that is driven by conscious and non‐conscious goals. Research relating to the explicit goals customers pursue is reviewed. Long‐term and short‐term goals are separated.

Important theoretical distinctions alluded to in motivational psychology are discussed. Theories that are examined include those relating to learning goals, implementation versus deliberation mindsets, action identification, goal shielding, and prevention versus promotion focus. This discussion is contrasted with the understanding that currently exists for when consumers learn of their goals from their actions. Some of the questions raised are: do customers' actions based on non‐conscious goals occur more in familiar rather than unfamiliar situations; with simple rather than complex behaviors; with difficult, negative choices rather than with simpler or positive choices; or with goals that go against a social norm and so need to be suppressed, rather than socially acceptable goals?

1.4.5 Sales Technology

Gary K. Hunter views sales technology as an umbrella term which includes interrelationships among sales strategy, sales processes, salespeople, and information technology. Sales technology includes sales aspects of customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) applications. Sales technology management involves much more than purchasing state‐of‐the‐art innovations and installing them on salespeople's laptops. Increasingly, companies are developing sales technology departments which perform various functions for (p. 12) the sales organization. The sales technology portfolio includes all information technologies involved in implementing, evaluating, and controlling the organization's selling effort. The array of capabilities includes laptops, cellphones, PDA devices, word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, and database applications. Sales technology involves far more than automating tasks.

Managers face challenging decisions as to how best to use technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales efforts. Sales managers need to customize their sales technology portfolios. Important factors associated with sales technology and its interrelationships with sales strategy, sales processes, and salespeople involving a range of sales contexts are discussed. Equipping, training, supporting, and motivating salespeople to adopt sales technology are examined in depth. Relationships between sales technology and performance for different types of use are considered. Finally, sales technology, productivity, and performance relationships are discussed.

1.5 The Organization and Sales Relationships

The last section of the Handbook examines the sales organization's relationships with other functions and the business. The sales organization is increasingly involved in strategy development and implementation with various components of the business. The chapters consider organizational commitment to sales; the strategic role of the sales organization; sales force agility, strategic thinking, and value propositions; marketing and sales relationships; and total integrated marketing.

1.5.1 Organizational Commitment to Sales

The sales force plays an important role in delivering superior value to customers, and the company has an important responsibility in addressing the changing needs of the market through organizational integration and transformation processes relative to sales activities. Important macro‐trends impact organizational commitment to sales. Chapter 17, by Wesley J. Johnston and Linda D. Peters, examines organizational commitment to sales. The central role of marketing in enhancing organizational capabilities within business networks is first discussed. Marketing is a translator of value to and from the marketplace, linking the externalization of competitive advantage in the marketplace with value to the organization. The intent is the creation of value for the organization and the customer.

(p. 13) Important macro‐trends are impacting organizational commitment to sales, changing the role of the sales function in the co‐creation of value with customers. How the sales function may operate as a partner in value co‐creation is discussed, and the role of the customer in this process is examined. Value needs to be defined by the customer. The sales organization also plays an important role in facilitating innovation and a learning organization. A perspective emerges which defines the commitment of both marketing and sales to building core competencies and positioning them as value propositions which create competitive advantage for the organization.

1.5.2 The Strategic Role of the Selling Function

There is growing agreement among sales force authorities that the strategic importance of the sales force may have reached an all‐time high. Thomas W. Leigh, William L. Cron, Artur Baldauf, and Samuel Grossenbacher provide an insight into current thinking. There is strong support by scholars for the need to address the strategic role of the sales function as a resource which drives competitive advantage and organizational performance. The objective of Chapter 18 is to examine the strategic role of the selling function based on the resource‐based view (RBV) perspective on the firm. The RBV provides a relevant foundation for developing a conceptual framework on the strategic role of the selling function. This approach is based on the logic that distinctions in resources and organizations' capabilities may offer potential competitive advantages that are linked to variations in returns.

The strategic sales function framework proposes a direct effect of sales organization resources and capabilities on sustainable competitive advantage (SCA) and an indirect effect through the mediation of SCA on the financial performance of the firm. Dynamic meta‐capabilities and organizing processes and contexts are proposed as moderating influences on the core processes. The intent of the framework is to extend the current perspective concerning the strategic role of the sales force. The framework identifies relevant variables and interrelationships.

1.5.3 Sales Force Agility, Strategic Thinking, and Value Propositions

Agility involves being flexible and quick to respond, ready to consider and make changes in value propositions offered to customers. Agility requires salespeople to be willing to respond to new evidence and to initiate change based on new or anticipated marketplace developments. In Chapter 19, Larry B. Chonko and Eli Jones observe that customers are exposed to far more information, other buyer (p. 14) behaviors, and ideas than in the past. Accordingly, organizations and their salespeople continuously experience the compelling need for change, and often find it necessary to respond and change rapidly or risk the loss of sales and perhaps more. Following an unchanged long‐term strategy may result in a form of inertia when experiencing marketplace disruptions, either for the entire business or with individual customers.

Conflicts may develop when a salesperson reaches an understanding of the strategic relationship with the customer, and then the ideas offered to the customer may be viewed as obsolete by the customer, on the basis of modified needs, wants, and preferences driven by real‐time marketplace information. This chapter develops a conceptual framework which proposes how agile salespeople should make decisions and act on value propositions offered in sales encounters. The framework provides a process on how salespeople can couple the skills of thinking strategically with those of acting with agility. Salespeople need to be always willing to examine new evidence, and to make changes based on new developments which are occurring or anticipated.

1.5.4 The Importance of Effective Working Relationships between Sales and Marketing

Firms are typically composed of functionally specialized departments such as Finance, Manufacturing, R&D, Sales, and Marketing. These departments are often highly interdependent, and a key role of their managers is to forge effective ongoing “cross‐functional relationships” (CFRs) with other managers. One of the most important of these CFRs, according to Kenneth Le Meunier‐FitzHugh and Graham W. Massey, is the sales–marketing CFR. Managers of sales and marketing departments are expected to work together to deliver value to customers, yet they often operate as functional silos with different cultures, objectives, and values. Chapter 20 examines “The Importance of Effective Working Relationships between Sales and Marketing”. It provides a framework for analysis and discussion concerning this important organizational relationship.

The chapter reviews current thinking on sales–marketing cross‐functional relationships, identifies gaps in academic literature, and discusses a range of controllable and uncontrollable factors that may influence this interface. Many organizations are unsure how to manage the sales–marketing cross‐functional relationship. The few empirical studies published to date examine the contextual conditions under which such relationships are enacted, e.g. the level of functional interdependence, power relations, and cultural differences. The main types of variable that influence the effectiveness of such relationships are discussed. These include organizational structure variables, the types of interaction and communication prevalent in the cross‐functional relationship, and key variables such as interpersonal trust.

(p. 15) 1.5.5 Marketing. The Anchor for Sales

Noel Capon, one of the most respected academic writers in marketing, argues that a carefully formulated market‐focused strategy will be ineffective unless the sales force executes it well. A hard‐working, highly motivated sales force will not achieve its potential unless guided by a marketing strategy well tuned to environmental realities. Marketing is the architect and the sales force is the builder; their activities are closely linked and interdependent. Chapter 21 identifies and determines how to access the market and other relevant environments, and how to develop a strategy to succeed in the market. In addition to strategy implementation with customers, the sales organization must closely monitor marketing plans and actions to ensure that marketing is following a promising avenue.

Six marketing imperatives—the tasks that marketing must accomplish—and four marketing principles that act as guidelines for making marketing decisions are identified and examined. The market strategy is a key output from marketing's efforts, and the sales strategy must implement the market strategy. Accordingly, the sales force must understand how the firm develops a market strategy so that sales can creatively work within that framework to design and implement an effective sales strategy. Sales managers must know what marketing is trying to accomplish, since they have an important role in helping marketing to be successful. Moreover, successful marketing helps the sales force succeed. The chapter provides a comprehensive examination of what every sales manager needs to know about marketing.

1.6 Summary

The Oxford Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management provides a snapshot of the current thinking on the strategic role of sales and sales management, and identifies some the key challenges presented to senior managers. The importance of a sales organization continues to be critical in creating value, and profits for organizations. Escalating sales and selling costs require organizations to be more focused on results and highlight the shifting of resources from marketing to sales, and the growth in customer power now requires a strategic, not a tactical response.

The Oxford Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management provides an unrivalled collection of articles by the leading academics in the field of sales and marketing management. Sales is experiencing a renaissance driven by a number of factors including building profitable relationships, creating/delivering value, strategic customer management, sales and marketing relationships, global selling, and the change from transactional to customer relationship selling. The role of sales in the delivery of strategic goals has never been more essential. We hope that you enjoy using the Handbook and find it to be a valuable resource.


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