Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 35: Discerning Marketers’ Meanings: Depth Interviews with Sales Executives
June Cotte and Geoﬀrey Kistruck How do sales executives think about, visualize and talk about customers? What if the metaphor that a sales executive uses to describe customers inﬂuences ultimate sales success? These are the questions we address in this chapter. Appearing in the Applications part of this book, our obvious goal is to oﬀer an example of qualitative research in action. In our case, while focusing on some positive and negative aspects of the use of qualitative methods with marketing and sales executives, we also explore intriguing questions concerning sales success. We focus on depth, or long, interviews (McCracken, 1988). We do not set out to discuss how to conduct these interviews, as many other sources, in both this book and others, already do this very well. What we focus on are the unique challenges and opportunities associated with using depth interviews with marketing executives. While we use depth interviews as a way of understanding the executives, we also acknowledge ‘the possibility that interview statements reveal less about the interiors of the interviewees or the exteriors of organizational practices and more about something else’ (Alvesson, 2003, p. 17). In highlighting some of the issues with depth interviews with executives in particular, we examine this ‘something else’. That is, we use our data to illustrate the value of the technique as well as the potentially troublesome underlying assumptions inherent in its use with executives. First, we brieﬂy overview how earlier researchers have used depth interviews with...
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