Engaging a product-focused sales force in solution selling: an interplay of individual and organizational conditions

Anna Salonen, Harri Terho, Eva Böhm, Ari Virtanen, Risto Rajala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


This study explains how manufacturers tackle the critical managerial challenge of transforming a product-focused sales force to undertake solution selling. Through an application of configurational theory, the authors explain how individual and organizational conditions combine to determine salespeople’s engagement in solution selling. Multilevel, multisource data from the sales organization of a global supplier of building solutions represent input from salespeople (N = 184), solution champions (N = 23), and sales managers (N = 26). Our fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis is not about finding a single, optimal way to overcome sales force transformation challenges. Instead, it seeks to reveal viable combinations of factors in successful transformation. From prior research, we know that solution selling requires certain types of salespeople because value-based selling is a necessary condition for successful engagement. Beyond this foundational condition, a heterogeneous sales force can be engaged, as long as the organization provides appropriate support that is tailored to individual salespersons’ needs. The findings affirm that this viable support can come from either sales managers or solution champions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-49
Number of pages49
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Apr 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Business-to-business marketing
  • Customer solutions
  • Sales force transformation
  • Sales management

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