103 - ORGANIZATIONAL ROLES OF SALES PEOPLE IN THE NETWORK...

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ORGANIZATIONAL ROLES OF SALES PEOPLE IN THE NETWORK MARKETING CONTEXT Elina Oksanen Department of Marketing, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, P.O.Box 1210, FIN-00101 Helsinki, Finland. Tel: + 358-9-43138491 E-mail: [email protected] This paper presents a framework for examining organizational roles of the sales people in network marketing context. The paper suggests that sales people role definitions should be broadened in response to changes in business environment. Performance measures in network type of environment should be re-evaluated, and in addition to sales related performance emphasis should be placed on networking behaviors supporting performance of actors within the network. 1. INTRODUCTION Not so long ago sales people were mainly expected to sell the products to their customers outside the sales organization. Organizational and social boundaries between sales person and customers were clear and time span of their interaction – or mere transaction- was relatively short. In contrast, contemporary sales people are faced with extended expectations concerning their performance. Sales organizations are more and more often responsible for various aspects of the establishment, development and maintenance of long-term customer- relationships. In addition, sales people are expected to be good sports and loyal citizens of the organization in relation to their fellow-workers. These changes reflect changes in our environment and managerial thinking in general (see Weitz & Bradford 1999). A well-established academic and managerial trend is to view business environments as networks of relationships between co-workers, customers and other actors. Furthermore, embedded social and business relationships are expected to last long, and boundaries between organizations as well as individual roles have become blurred. As a consequence, sales managers are dealing with variety of new challenges. One of the key challenges is to redefine the criteria for excellent sales person performance. Not surprisingly, it has been argued that so far the majority of sales behavior studies have adopted a fairly narrow view of performance merely focusing on in-role aspects of it (e.g. sales volume, dollar sales, and managerial evaluations of sales effectiveness). Only in recent years, the definition of performance has been extended to acknowledge other aspects of performance as well (MacKenzie & al. 1998). Concepts of pro-social behavior, extra-role behavior and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) all illustrate behaviors, which contribute to the overall effectiveness of the organization, but do not necessarily affect
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individual selling performance (Netemeyer & al. 1997). These behaviors have most often been viewed as extra-role behaviors in the sense that they are not explicitly included in the role definitions of the sales people.
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