Sales Force Performance: A Typology and Future Research Priorities

Author(s): Michael Ahearne and Son K. Lam

Excerpt from the Handbook of Business-to-Business Marketing (Edited by Gary L. Lilien, Distinguished Research Professor of Management Science, The Pennsylvania State University and Rajdeep Grewal, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, US). Complete book available at

In marketing research and practice in a selling context, performance implications are often demonstrated at the individual, business unit, or company level. The purposes of this chapter are threefold. First, this chapter surveys the literature on sales force performance to evaluate how this important criterion variable has been defined, operationalized and measured. Using this survey, a typology of sales force performance measures is developed. To this end, sales force performance is categorized into topical areas along two dimensions – positive versus negative performance and behavioral versus outcome performance – which includes in-role and extra-role behavioral performance. Second, future research topics in each of those areas are identified. Third, the chapters offers brief methodological notes for exploring these new topics.
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