Abstract and Keywords
This article examines the role of the direct sales force as a core enterprise strategy and capability relative to the organization's customer relationship management (CRM) system. It discusses the CRM models implied by product leadership, cost leadership, and customer intimacy strategies. 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. This article examines the role of the sales force for four customer archetypes: transactional, solution selling, relationship selling, and strategic partnerships. 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, this article discusses the role of the direct sales force concerning four specific CRM processes: market sensing, customer sensing, customer linking, and cross-functional spanning.