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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
165 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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). A fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis reveals no single, optimal way to overcome transformation challenges. Rather, consistent with prior research, 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)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalJOURNAL OF THE ACADEMY OF MARKETING SCIENCE
Volume49
Issue number1
Early online date17 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

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

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