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 27: Sales Force Performance: A Typology and Future Research Priorities

Michael Ahearne and Son K. Lam


Michael Ahearne and Son K. Lam In marketing research and practice in a selling context, performance implications are often demonstrated at the individual, business unit, or company level. Since Ford et al.’s (1985) book on sales force performance, the literature on sales force performance has become entrenched. Therefore, we take this opportunity to reflect on this voluminous body of research to chart future research avenues. The purposes of this chapter are threefold. First, we survey the literature on sales force performance to evaluate how this important criterion variable has been defined, operationalized and measured. Using this survey, we develop a typology of sales force performance measures. To this end, we categorize sales force performance into topical areas along two dimensions – positive versus negative performance and behavioral versus outcome performance – and show how in-role and extra-role behavioral performance fit into the typology. Second, we identify future research topics in each of those areas. Third, we provide brief methodological notes for exploring these new topics. The organization of the chapter also follows this order. We contribute to the ongoing conversation about sales force evaluation in two ways. The chapter provides not only a comprehensive review of the current state of the literature but also a useful typology for academic researchers and practitioners to appreciate and make sense of the complexity of sales force evaluation. In addition, in each topical area of sales force evaluation, we identify opportunities for further research that will inform managers of effective ways to evaluate performance. Given the...

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