INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL ISSUE: ADVANCING THE FIELD OF SELLING AND SALES MANAGEMENT Steven P. Brown and Eli Jones The authors served as Special Issue Guest Editors for this issue of JPSSM. In this introduction to the Special Issue, they discuss how the issue was conceived and produced, and express their gratitude to the many colleagues who worked to make the issue a success.
In recent years, practitioners and academicians have acknowledged that the field of selling and sales management has changed dramatically. Customers’ expectations have increased and are continually on the rise, technological advances have placed additional demands on salespeople, globalization has made the business environment “smaller” and more interconnected, and more people from sales organizations have become involved in the process of selling and account management in an effort to deliver more value faster than the competition. At the same time, business-to-business customers have indicated that they do not detect a significant difference in products and services from one seller to the next, implying the prevalence of commoditization. These concerns highlight the urgent need for new thinking and research directions. This Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Special Issue of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management is devoted to providing new ideas that will help chart future research directions for the field in light of its changing environment. This Special Issue emanates from a meeting held at the University of Houston in May 2004, in which 28 academicians from the United States and Europe gathered to discuss directions for selling and sales management research in response to fundamental changes in the business environment. This “Sales Management Research Summit” was cosponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA) Academic Division, the University of Houston’s Sales Excellence Institute, and JPSSM. Six teams were formed to discuss these key areas within the domain of selling and sales management:
Steven P. Brown (Ph.D., University of Texas), Bauer Professor of Marketing, C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, [email protected]
Eli Jones (Ph.D., Texas A&M University), Associate Professor of Marketing and Executive Director of the Sales Excellence Institute, C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, [email protected]
sales and marketing integration; selection, training, and development; leadership; motivation, control, and compensation; customer relationship management; and key accounts and team selling. The papers contained in this Special Issue are the ultimate products of these discussions, which, of course, continued long past the Sales Management Research Summit. It is our hope that they will have a meaningful effect on the direction and conduct of research in the field. We are extremely grateful for the thoughtful and dedicated efforts of all contributors to this Special Issue and to the event at the University of Houston. In addition to the scholars who contributed their time to attend the Summit and write these papers, we greatly appreciate the involvement of Paul Sarvadi, CEO of Administaff, headquartered in Houston. In his address, which was titled “A CEO’s Perspective on the Future of Sales,” Paul stressed the importance of the six topics, observing that “increasing customer expectations means that a faster response is needed from selling companies, and sellers must provide increasing value over time. Companies must incorporate changes (technological, more sophisticated selling, etc.) on the fly—at rapid speed.” The special efforts of Bart Weitz are very much appreciated. He strongly encouraged and supported our efforts from the beginning and then proceeded further, beyond the call of duty, by both giving a keynote address and serving as team leader for the Sales and Marketing Integration group. In his keynote comments, Bart noted (among other things) that “with the increased complexity of selling today, there is a need to increase the sophistication of the sales force.” We also appreciate the stellar contributions of Andy Zoltners, who, like Bart, helped initiate the summit discussions with a keynote address. Andy commented that “there is a chasm between what practitioners need (from research) and the research that academics are doing . . . there’s a need for an interpreter.” It is our hope that, in line with Andy’s comments, the ideas advanced in this Special Issue will help close the gap between practitioner concerns about the future of selling and sales management and the research that academics can implement to address those concerns. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, vol. XXV, no. 2 (spring 2005), pp. 103–104. © 2005 PSE National Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. ISSN 0885-3134 / 2005 $9.50 + 0.00.
104 Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management
We owe a great measure of thanks to Greg Marshall, Editor of JPSSM, who supported our efforts in many ways. First, Greg enthusiastically endorsed the idea of developing a special issue of JPSSM from the discussions originated at the Sales Management Research Summit. Second, he and Bart were instrumental in obtaining the cosponsorship of the AMA Academic Division for the Summit, which greatly enhanced the effect of the event. Third, Greg served capably as team leader for the Selection, Training, and Development team. Without Greg’s efforts, this special issue would not have been possible. Our gratitude also goes out to Dennis Dunlap and Pat Goodrich, CEO and Senior Director for Professional Development, respectively, at the AMA. The financial support of the AMA and the University of Houston’s Sales Excellence
Institute helped make the Sales Management Research Summit a memorable and successful event and facilitated the process of completing this Special Issue. The summit and the Special Issue suitably reflect the AMA’s dedication to fostering quality discourse on managerial topics in marketing, and their generosity is greatly appreciated. Finally, a special thanks goes to members of the University of Houston’s Program for Excellence in Selling staff—Susana Rosas and John Pingel—for their outstanding and unstinting assistance in hosting the summit. The efforts of everyone mentioned above culminated in this Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Special Issue of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management. We hope it reaches its potential to inform research and practice in our field.