Sales manager problem resolution styles : measure development and an examination of their salesperson-related consequences
Personal selling and sales management play a critical role in the short and long term success of the firm, and have thus received substantial academic interest since the 1970s. Sales research has examined the role of the sales manager in some depth, defining a number of key technical and interpersonal roles which sales managers have in influencing sales force effectiveness. However, one aspect of sales management which appears to remain unexplored is that of their resolution of salesperson-related problems. This study represents the first attempt to address this gap by reporting on the conceptual and empirical development of an instrument designed to measure sales managers' problem resolution styles. A comprehensive literature review and qualitative research study identified three key constructs relating to sales managers' problem resolution styles. The three constructs identified were termed; sales manager willingness to respond, sales manager caring, and sales manager aggressiveness. Building on this, existing literature was used to develop a conceptual model of salesperson-specific consequences of the three problem resolution style constructs. The quantitative phase of the study consisted of a mail survey of UK salespeople, achieving a total sample of 140 fully usable responses. Rigorous statistical assessment of the sales manager problem resolution style measures was undertaken, and construct validity examined. Following this, the conceptual model was tested using latent variable path analysis. The results for the model were encouraging overall, and also with regard to the individual hypotheses. Sales manager problem resolution styles were found individually to have significant impacts on the salesperson-specific variables of role ambiguity, emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, organisational commitment and organisational citizenship behaviours. The findings, theoretical and managerial implications, limitations and directions for future research are discussed.