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Strategic Sales Process Adaptation: Relationship Orientation of the Sales Process in a Business-to-Business Context

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Use this URL to link or cite this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/28464
Title: Strategic Sales Process Adaptation: Relationship Orientation of the Sales Process in a Business-to-Business Context
Author: Viio, Paul
Belongs to series: Economics and Society – 237
ISSN: 0424-7256
ISBN: 978-952-232-150-3
Abstract: Although previous research has recognised adaptation as a central aspect in relationships, the adaptation of the sales process to the buying process has not been studied. Furthermore, the linking of relationship orientation as mindset with adaptation as a strategy and forming the means has not been elaborated upon in previous research. Adaptation in the context of relationships has mostly been studied in relationship marketing. In sales and sales management research, adaptation has been studied with reference to personal selling. This study focuses on adaptation of the sales process to strategically match it to the buyer’s mindset and buying process.

The purpose of this study is to develop a framework for strategic adaptation of the seller’s sales process to match the buyer’s buying process in a business-to-business context to make sales processes more relationship oriented. In order to arrive at a holistic view of adaptation of the sales process during relationship initiation, both the seller and buyer are included in an extensive case analysed in the study. However, the selected perspective is primarily that of the seller, and the level focused on is that of the sales process.

The epistemological perspective adopted is constructivism. The study is a qualitative one applying a retrospective case study, where the main sources of information are in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants representing the counterparts at the seller and the buyer in the software development and telecommunications industries.

The main theoretical contributions of this research involve targeting a new area in the crossroads of relationship marketing, sales and sales management, and buying and purchasing by studying adaptation in a business-to-business context from a new perspective. Primarily, this study contributes to research in sales and sales management with reference to relationship orientation and strategic sales process adaptation. This research fills three research gaps. Firstly, linking the relationship orientation mindset with adaptation as strategy. Secondly, extending adaptation in sales from adaptation in selling to strategic adaptation of the sales process. Thirdly, extending adaptation to include facilitation of adaptation.

The approach applied in the study, systematic combining, is characterised by continuously moving back and forth between theory and empirical data. The framework that emerges, in which linking mindset with strategy with mindset and means forms a central aspect, includes three layers: purchasing portfolio, seller-buyer relationship orientation, and strategic sales process adaptation. Linking the three layers enables an analysis of where sales process adaptation can make a contribution. Furthermore, implications for managerial use are demonstrated, for example how sellers can avoid the ‘trap’ of ad-hoc adaptation. This includes involving the company, embracing the buyer’s purchasing portfolio, understanding the current position that the seller has in this portfolio, and possibly educating the buyer about advantages of adopting a relationship-oriented approach.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/28464
Date: 2011-11-14
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