Interface of Sales Force with Marketing and Digital

Date

2019-08

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Abstract

Sales force’s interface with marketing and digital is of considerable significance, not only to the macro-level challenge of how firms vest marketing and sales responsibilities with employees, but also to the micro-level digital disruption to B2B selling process. Even though dual responsibility of marketing and sales influences customer outcomes and firm performance, and B2B buyers complete up to 70% of due diligence online before making their first contact with supplier, scanty research offers clarity on sales’ interface at both these macro and micro levels. In this dissertation, I investigate how salespeople’s interfaces at macro and micro levels may generate not only costs but also new opportunities to improve performance. Essay 1 takes a macro (firm-level) perspective on marketing-sales interface. In this essay, I examine how firms often vest marketing and sales responsibilities with a single incoming manager while seeking synergistic benefits for customers. However, dual responsibility for marketing and sales with one executive during managerial succession introduces disruption costs as the change manifests over more customer touchpoints; nevertheless, such dual responsibility is also adaptive as firms seek synergistic benefits for customers. I argue that succession outcomes of appointment announcements of new executives with dual responsibility for marketing and sales (M&S) depends on a disruption-adaptation tradeoff that changes over time. Compared to new marketing-only (M) or sales-only (S) appointments’ announcements, M&S succession, in the short-term, mostly hurts firm performance since wider scope of responsibility is a recipe for immediate loss of efficiency; but in the long-term, mostly helps as succession benefits - requiring time to manifest - offer the new executive greater elbow room in customer management. However, when I account for horizontal (predecessor’s forced exit and executive’s insider status) and vertical (executive’s seniority) influences that trigger the potential for change following a succession event, the short-term disruption is found to be conditionally adaptive, while long-term adaptation is found to be conditionally disruptive. Essay 2 takes a micro (digital) perspective on marketing-sales interface. In this essay, I study digital disruption to B2B selling process. As B2B buyers complete up to 70% of due diligence online before making their first contact with supplier, there is a greater need to explore managerially relevant procedures, such as B2B selling processes, to improve revenues. To explore buyer-seller information asymmetry regarding closure of sales deals, I study how sales lead conversions are impacted by presence of sales leads across stages (advanced vs. early) in relatively segregated offline and online buying contexts (divisions) within an industrial firm. Based on a set of preliminary qualitative interviews and three studies, including historical data analyses and field-experiment, my findings offer the first insight into variation in positive influences of advanced (vs. early) stage of the selling process on sales closures across both offline and online contexts; however, the presence of a sales lead in the advanced stage of the offline selling process has greater chances of conversion to a sales win relative to online selling process. I draw on information economics framework, and leverage two mechanisms that moderate the aforementioned associations - screening by the uninformed party (buyer) for due diligence and signaling by the informed party (seller) for outreach. Finally, through a randomized field-experiment I explore a condition when the screening and signaling effects may be indistinguishable.

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Keywords

Sales force, Digital, Marketing

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