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© Cranfield University 2008 Karen Boehnke Peesker and Javier Marcos-Cuevas Cranfield School of Management GSSI 2014 Conference Exploring Leadership Styles and Salesperson Performance: A Review and Framework
© Cranfield University 2008 Broad Managerial problem: Providing sales force leadership has been recognized as one of the most crucial issues for future sales force and organizational success (Ingram et al. 2002, 2005), along with the importance of understanding sales performance (Verbeke et al. 2011). Primary Research Question: How do leadership styles and behaviours impact salesperson performance? Methods: Using the Systematic Literature Review process 341 studies were initially identified, with a final selection of 56 papers used in the review Review Question Leadership Styles and Behaviours Sales Performance
© Cranfield University 2008 Key Findings I CONTEXT is key to understanding the link between sales leadership and sales performance Transformational leadership measures were associated with higher levels of sales performance in specific sales contexts (i.e. services vs. retail, Arnold et al. 2009). Transactional measures of leadership were positively related to sales performance. Trust and customer orientation were found to moderate the impact of specific leadership styles on salesperson performance. Contextual factors, such as the complexity of product/service, customer, channel and territory have a bearing on the impact of leadership styles on salesperson performance.
© Cranfield University 2008 Key Findings II It is important to capture the FOLLOWERSHIP element to understand the perception of the salesperson, and the relationship between the sales leader and salesperson. Sales people engage in self-leadership activities to develop and expand relationships with customers and business partners (Ingram et al. 2005), increasing the importance of understanding the leader/follower relationship. Congruence between perceived and desired leadership behaviours impacts salespersons effort. A leader may believe they are providing leadership behaviours, however unless the behaviour is desired or provided in a desired amount it may be difficult to achieve sales performance (Decarlo et al. 1999). Increases in the level of identification congruence between sales managers and their salespeople yield positive incremental effects on sales performance and customer satisfaction. (Ahearne et al. 2012). Why? Perhaps the salesperson’s perception of authenticity of the leader and/or interpersonal identification with the leader and the resulting relationship triggers trust in sales leader and generates a willingness to work harder.
© Cranfield University 2008 Key Findings III The existing conceptualization of sales leadership and sales performance focuses primarily on the transformational and transactional leadership models (i.e. styles), but fails to identify if a specific set of leadership behaviours in the sales environment and how these impact salesperson’s performance. There is an opportunity to complement the existing quantitative research (91%) with the use of qualitative methods to extend our understanding of the complex interaction between leadership styles, sales person’s perceptions and performance. Empirical studies fail to outline how to use leadership behaviours to improve sales performance within the current challenges of selling in the new digital environment.
© Cranfield University 2008 Towards a Framework of Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Sales PSYCAP Coaching Stimulating Behaviour Performance Outcome Performance Mediators TeamBuilding Inspiring Recognizing Trust Customer Orientation Sales Leadership Behaviours Salesperson Performance Visioning High complexity Low complexity High complexity Low complexity Product/service Customer Channel Territory Product/service Customer Channel Territory
© Cranfield University 2008 An Example: The Stimulating Behaviour Stimulating refers to ‘Intellectual Stimulation’, a behaviour used by leaders to encourage new ways of looking at problems (Bass, 1997) This behaviour encourages salespeople to brainstorm and generate new ideas and solutions for customers When salespeople act upon the stimuli received and strive to innovate with customers, a positive response from the customer may improve their PsyCap (confidence, optimism) In the event of customer rejection, it may trigger resilience and willingness to come back and to provide the right solution The result of this behaviour may be improved sales performance when the sales environment requires salespeople to bring new ideas and approaches to customers In turn, this behaviour may influence the salesperson to become more customer oriented This relationship is far from simple. MacKenzie et al.(2001) found the intellectually stimulation behaviour could result in decreased trust in the manager if the sales person experiences role ambiguity and confusion.
© Cranfield University 2008 Conclusions and Next Steps There is some evidence, that the practice of transformational leadership behaviours positively impacts sales performance however the results were mixed. The impact of leadership styles on sales person’s performance may be context dependent. Sales leadership research needs to evolve to better understand the relationship between the follower and the leader and to unpack the generative mechanisms that moderate the relationship between sales leadership behaviours and sales performance. Conclusions Future Research Directions Research Execution: Interview Sales Leaders and Salespeople Potentially measure leadership behaviours with LBI Model Measure sales performance using output performance measures (e.g. percentage of achievement against sales targets), and some behavioural measures.
© Cranfield University 2009 Towards a Framework of Sales Performance Measurement Effectiveness Peter Kerr, Javier Marcos-Cuevas Cranfield School of Management.
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