Handbook of Business-to-Business Marketing
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Handbook of Business-to-Business Marketing

Edited by Gary L. Lilien and Rajdeep Grewal

This insightful Handbook provides a comprehensive state-of-the-art review of business-to-business marketing. It supplies an overview and pioneers new ideas relating to the activity of building mutually value-generating relationships between organizations – from businesses to government agencies to not-for-profit organizations – and the many individuals within them.
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Chapter 15: Evolution of Buyer–Seller Relationships

Douglas Bowman


Douglas Bowman The importance of understanding how interorganizational buyer–seller relationships are created, persist, sometimes destroyed and occasionally re-established has been raised in multiple contexts. For many reasons, continuity is a focal construct of interest in business marketing contexts (Dwyer et al. 1987). From the seller’s perspective the relative cost of generating a new customer versus retaining a current customer (Fornell and Wernerfelt 1988) suggests that actions that promote continuity can be more profitable. As evidence, consider Kalwani and Narayandas’s (1995) matched-pair analysis of manufacturing firms, which shows that compared with firms viewed as taking a transactional approach, those in long-term relationships achieve high profitability through means such as lower discretionary expenses. Kumar’s (1999) matched-pair study of business services suppliers also reveals that compared with those focused on customer acquisition (i.e. transaction-oriented), firms involved in long-term client relationships typically achieve superior returns on their investment (ROI). Customer retention is a key driver of customer lifetime value (Gupta and Zeithaml 2006), and the profit impact of underspending on retention can greatly exceed the profit impact of a comparable underspend on customer acquisition (Reinartz et al. 2005). In advertising agency–client relationships, the discontinuity in promotional strategy resulting from a change in agencies can weaken the brand image (Buchanan and Michell 1991). Relationships in distribution channels have been viewed as dyadic in nature (e.g. Anderson and Weitz 1989), and their continuity plays an important role in channel effectiveness. With an expectation of continuity, independent sales representatives in an industrial channel, for example,...

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