Value-Creating Sales: The Role of Digital Technologies
Submission window 1 August 2021-30 November 2021
Special Issue Guest-Editors:
Roland Kassemeier (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Sascha Alavi (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Johannes Habel (University of Houston)
Christian Schmitz (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Jan Wieseke (Ruhr-University Bochum)
International low-cost competition and commoditization, technological innovation, especially digitalization, and increasingly broad and demanding customer requirements (Deloitte 2016; Eggert et al. 2014; Jones et al. 2005) undermine the effectiveness of product-centered business models. Many companies therefore have started to migrate to new business models including what we call value-creating business models. In value-creating business models, suppliers proactively commit to improving customers’ value by advising customer on how to achieve higher value-in-use and generating, and guaranteeing value-in-use. However, many product-centered companies face major difficulties in the implementation of value-creating business models (Fang, Palmatier, and Steenkamp 2008). Overall, 75 % of the companies that migrate towards value-creating business models do not make any profits after the transformational process (Stanley and Wojcik 2005).
The organizational function that is most essential to the successful adoption of value-creating business models and simultaneously most strongly affected by this change is the industrial sales force (Haas et al. 2012; Terho et al. 2015). In value-creating sales, the sales force has to convince customers of the new value proposition and successfully implement it at the customer interface. Salespeople need to accept and internalize the new business model, as they are key conveyors of corporate strategic initiatives and their support is relevant for its success (Slater and Olson 2000). Further, value-creating business models require salespeople to adapt to more complex product-service combinations, deal with stronger multi-person perspectives on both the customer and supplier side, and increase in their focus on long-term selling outcomes. These novel requirements entail substantial role changes for salespeople. Hence, the sales force reflects a major bottleneck for the successful transformation from product-centered business models to value-creating business models and thereby for value-creating sales in general.
Many firms hope to overcome this bottleneck by the use of digital technologies (e.g., Ardolino et al. 2018; Coreynen et al. 2017; Tronvoll et al. 2020). Although digitalization reflects a fruitful opportunity to engender service growth (e.g., Grubic 2018), its advantages and the difficulties in its implementation remain not well understood for value-creating business models (e.g., Paschou et al. 2020). Furthermore, digitalized technologies particularly influence the sales force by disrupting well-established sales practices and questioning well-known sales theories (Singh et al. 2019). Thus, companies that operate or aim to transform to value-creating business models could particularly benefit from greater clarity of how digital technologies can engender a company’s creation of customer value by the sales function.
Whereas prior research investigated product-centered business models and diverse transitional concepts reflecting the combination of products and services (e.g., product-service bundles, hybrid offerings, integrated solutions, servitization), to date, marketing and sales research is surprisingly silent on how to successfully implement value-creating business models in the sales function. In addition, how companies can benefit from digital technologies in the implementation and application of value-creating business models and value-creating sales remains largely unclear. Whereas there are initial conceptual articles, empirical evidence is relatively scarce. Therefore, both academics and especially practitioners remain largely unguided on how to implement value-creating business models in the sales function and, further, on how to benefit in the implementation and application of value-creating sales by digital technologies.
Seeing the high relevance of the topic in research and practice, the goal of this special issue is to initiate the comprehensive investigation of the sales force in the transition from product-centered business models to value-creating business models while acknowledging the role of digital technologies as support function for the successful implementation and application of value creating sales. Research questions that may be addressed include (but are not limited to):
- How effectively can digital technologies enhance salespeople’s customer need analysis in value-creating sales?
- How can digital technologies support salespeople’s knowledge capabilities in value-creating sales?
- How should salespeople integrate digital technologies in their selling interactions with customers?
- Can digital technologies help to communicate the value of a value-creating sales offer to different stakeholders in the buying center?
- How can digital technologies support salespeople in decreasing customer uncertainty in value-creating sales?
- How can digital technologies (e.g., information systems) support salespeople and supplier organizations in establishing and maintaining customer relationships in value-creating sales?
- How can digital technologies support the transformation of customers from product-centered business models to value-creating business models?
- Can digital technologies have undesired consequences for relationships between customers and supplier organizations?
- Do digital technologies require new contractual schemes in value-creating business models?
- How should customer interactions in value-creating sales be optimally orchestrated across traditional and digital communication and sales channels?
- Does the support of digital technologies change the importance of specific salesperson skills, capabilities, and character traits and thereby influence criteria for optimal salesperson selection?
- How can digital technologies support leadership and monitoring in value-creating sales?
- How can digital technologies improve sales learning and sales training in value-creating sales?
- How can digital technologies support organizations in the process of transforming from product-centered to value-creating business models?
- How can digital technologies improve the orchestration of value co-creation across and within organizational boundaries?
To this end, the editors encourage the submission of a number of different types of papers:
- Papers that present original contributions. These papers may use theoretical analysis or empirical data. Papers may present knowledge that is new-to-the-world or new-to-sales.
- Shorter research notes that present novel empirical insights into one specific phenomenon, aiming to stimulate further research. Submissions in this area need to put particular emphasis on a favorable length-to-contribution ratio.
Authors are encouraged to contact the managing guest editor if they are unsure of the applicability of their topic to the issue at [email protected]
The submission window is from 01 August 2021-30 November 2021. Submitted manuscripts must follow European Journal of Marketing Manuscript Preparation Guidelines (https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/ejm#author-guidelines) and must be submitted online at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ejm. Please select the special issue from the drop down menu during submission. Only original papers not currently under review or published elsewhere may be submitted. Please direct any questions to the managing guest editor Roland Kassemeier at [email protected]
Ardolino, M., Rapaccini, M., Saccani, N., Gaiardelli, P., Crespi, G., & Ruggeri, C. (2018). The role of digital technologies for the service transformation of industrial companies. International Journal of Production Research, 56(6), 2116-2132.
Coreynen, W., Matthyssens, P., & Van Bockhaven, W. (2017). Boosting servitization through digitization: Pathways and dynamic resource configurations for manufacturers. Industrial Marketing Management, 60, 42-53.
Deloitte. (2016). Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index: Deloitte.
Eggert, A., Hogreve, J., Ulaga, W., & Muenkhoff, E. (2011). Industrial services, product innovations, and firm profitability: A multiple-group latent growth curve analysis. Industrial Marketing Management, 40(5), 661-670.
Fang, E., Palmatier, R. W., & Steenkamp, J. B. E. (2008). Effect of service transition strategies on firm value. Journal of Marketing, 72(5), 1-14.
Grubic, T. (2018). Remote monitoring technology and servitization: Exploring the relationship. Computers in Industry, 100, 148-158.
Haas, A., Snehota, I., & Corsaro, D. (2012). Creating value in business relationships: The role of sales. Industrial Marketing Management, 41(1), 94-105.
Jones, E., Brown, S. P., Zoltners, A. A., & Weitz, B. A. (2005). The changing environment of selling and sales management. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 25(2), 105-111.
Paschou, T., Rapaccini, M., Adrodegari, F., & Saccani, N. (2020). Digital servitization in manufacturing: A systematic literature review and research agenda. Industrial Marketing Management.
Singh, J., Flaherty, K., Sohi, R. S., Deeter-Schmelz, D., Habel, J., Le Meunier-FitzHugh, K., et al. (2019). Sales profession and professionals in the age of digitization and artificial intelligence technologies: concepts, priorities, and questions. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 39(1), 2-22.
Slater, S. F., & Olson, E. M. (2000). Strategy type and performance: The influence of sales force management. Strategic Management Journal, 21(8), 813-829.
Stanley, Jennifer E., and Pilip J. Wojcik (2005). “Better B2B selling.” McKinsey Quarterly, 38(3): 15.
Terho, H., Eggert, A., Haas, A., & Ulaga, W. (2015). How sales strategy translates into performance: The role of salesperson customer orientation and value-based selling. Industrial Marketing Management, 45, 12-21.
Tronvoll, B., Sklyar, A., Sörhammar, D., & Kowalkowski, C. (2020). Transformational shifts through digital servitization. Industrial Marketing Management.
About the Guest Editors:
Roland Kassemeier (managing guest editor) is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bochum. Roland’s research interests include personal selling and sales management, multichannel selling, and the digital transformation of the sales function. Roland has published in the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management and presented his research at multiple international conferences. He serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management and has received multiple awards for his dissertation. Roland has also experience as a management consultant for several years.
Sascha Alavi is Professor of Sales Management at the University of Bochum. Sascha’s research interests include sales management, leadership, personal selling, and stress management of employees. Sascha has published in multiple leading journals including the Journal of Marketing, Academy of Management Journal, and Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. He is Associate Editor for Sales Management at the European Journal of Marketing, member of the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Service Research, and the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management and an ad-hoc reviewer for several major marketing journals. He has received several awards, including the 2020 Marvin Jolson Award for the best contribution to selling and sales management practice and two best paper awards of AMA conferences. Sascha has also experience as a management consultant for several years.
Johannes Habel is Associate Professor at the C.T. Bauer College at University of Houston. Johannes' research interests include personal selling, sales management, and digital transformation of sales. Johannes has published in multiple leading journals including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, International Journal of Research in Marketing and Journal of Service Research. He is a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and an ad-hoc reviewer for the Journal of Marketing. He has received several awards, including the 2020 Marvin Jolson Award for the best contribution to selling and sales management practice, as well as five teaching awards between 2016 and 2020. Johannes has also worked as a management consultant and radio news anchor.
Christian Schmitz is Professor of Sales Management at the University of Bochum. Christian’s research interests center on sales management, personal selling, and business-to-business marketing. He has published in leading journals including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, International Journal of Research in Marketing, and Journal of Service Research. Christian has been awarded with several national and international research awards. Christian is a distinguished teacher for executives and has received highly prestigious awards for his teaching.
Jan Wieseke is Professor of Sales Management at the University of Bochum and visiting Professor at ESMT Berlin and at Loughborough University. Jan’s research interests include compensation and incentivisation systems for salespeople and managers, the impact of new business models on sales management, the identification of key success factors of sales management, KPI systems for managing the sales profit chain, and customer retention management. Jan has published in leading journals including the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Applied Psychology and Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. Jan is member of the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Service Research, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and British Journal of Management and serves as ad-hoc reviewer for multiple journals including the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.