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Title: Predictors of sales performance in B2B hybrid organisations : an action research inquiry
Author: Gross, S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 5819
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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This action research thesis is about the predictors of sales performance within organisations, which are shifting from a manufacturer of goods towards a hybrid company, supplementing their goods offerings with services, or a pure service company. The objectives of this research have been to identify the key criteria that characterise successful sales organisations or salespeople within these types of companies and what differences exist between the sales approaches and salespeople’s behaviour. This research has further aimed to explore how people in sales organisations are recruited and developed within the context of such a change initiative. The latter aim is particularly important, since this study was conducted as an action research inquiry within the context of an interim management provider, who help their clients on these topics through external support. The author has adopted pragmatism as a theoretical position to reach a better understanding of the scope of the problems. This has generated actionable knowledge relevant for sales organisations transitioning from a goods-dominant business towards a hybrid or service-dominant business. A literature review has been conducted to get a better understanding of the drivers and forces beyond servitization and sales within a business-to-business (B2B) context. The first research action cycle was based on the problem definition and initial literature review. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were then applied as elements of the action research process. Qualitative research was a part of cycle one and quantitative research methods were applied in cycle two. Based on the existing literature and the interviews that were conducted, the role of technical and product knowledge, as well as customer and industry knowledge was investigated. Additionally, the relevance of adapting sales approaches to varying customer demands, the role of internal collaboration as a moderating factor for sales success and the role of sales control systems, with a particular focus on reward systems, were a part of further research within cycle two. Sixteen hypotheses were developed and tested by means of an electronic survey. This survey thus identified the differences between sales organisations with an industrial background (goods-dominant) and those with a background in IT and telecommunications (hybrid or service-dominant). In regard to most of the hypotheses presented here, this study found no evidence of significant differences between Industrial and IT sales organisations. As factors that significantly influence the performance of sales organisations within hybrid and servicedominant businesses, this study has identified reward systems and, in particular, the extent to which organisations use incentive compensation as a means for motivation, as well as the extent to which salespeople are rewarded for their results. Moreover, qualitative and quantitative research provided several interesting insights for sales organisations coping with change driven by servitization. As conducted within the scope of this thesis, an action research project aims at improving a problem faced by an organisation. The assumptions made to address the underlying problem and a potential resolution did – during cycle one – not turn out as suitable, so that the initial problem could not be addressed as initially planned. Instead of personality traits, differences between Industrial and IT sales organisations were identified based on knowledge, behaviour and control. This did also address the problem and improve the situation, even if it was not initially intended in this way.
Supervisor: Raddats, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral