Developing and Retaining New Hires During the Sales Force Socialization Process
Boichuk, Jeff Patrick
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This dissertation shines light on the sales force socialization process, wherein companies aim to develop and retain new hires. In the first essay, we draw from learned helplessness theory to understand why cumulative periods of sales performance failure enhance new hires’ intentions to engage in sales-oriented behaviors. Based on panel survey data from 221 new hires of a furniture retailer, findings suggest that core transformational leadership thwarts this process, but also that its effect diminishes as instances of unmet sales goals accumulate. A subsequent lab experiment identifies perceived task difficulty as the mechanism through which sales performance failure translates into sales-oriented behavior intentions and finds support for error management as a better way to curb helplessness and develop new hires. In the second essay, we study the influence of social effects on sales force turnover, using a multi-source, longitudinal dataset from a national household durables retailer of 3,832 sales agents. The results advance social information processing theory and again propose that core transformational leadership plays an important role during early tenure stages; the analyses also show that this management style had a sustained effect on new hires’ risk of turnover for articulating a vision and fostering the acceptance of group goals, however. On the other hand, the influence of peers tended to increase over time, with the demographic diversity of new hires’ sales districts increasing their risk of turnover during later tenure stages and observations of peers quitting having a similar effect. Taken together, these essays provide insights that companies can incorporate into their sales force socialization processes to develop and retain new hires.