Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

How Do Sales Managers Perceive Their Roles? [*]

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

How Do Sales Managers Perceive Their Roles? [*]

Article excerpt

Sales managers who are charged with effectively managing and leading salesforces in their revenue-generating and customer relationship activities conceivably have one of the more eclectic, demanding, and crucial managerial jobs in business. In fact, some marketing scholars maintain that the sales manager's responsibility for handling the entire interface with the customer is possibly the single most important factor in creating and perpetuating company success (Czinkota et al., 1997). Despite the importance of sales management positions, a review of the sales literature readily reveals that most of the research focus has centered on salespeople, not sales managers. The limited empirical work pertaining to sales managers has generally been restricted to exploring power (Busch,1980), training (Coppett and Staples, 1980; Shepherd and Ridnour, 1995; Anderson et al., 1997), trust (Lagace, 1990, 1991), psychological adaptiveness (Lassk et al., 1992), leadership (e.g., Castleberry and Tanner, 1986; Tanner and Castl eberry, 1990; Lagace, 1991), and the boundary-spanning role (Lysonski and Johnson, 1983).

One area of sales management that has not been investigated empirically, but has been frequently discussed conceptually (e.g., Anderson et al., 1992; Churchill et al., 1997; Dalrymple and Cron, 1995; Dubinsky and Ingram, 1983; Ingram et al., 1997; Moncrief and Shipp, 1997; Stanton et al., 1995; Wotruba and Simpson, 1992), pertains to the role orientations needed by sales managers at different hierarchical levels. As with other management hierarchies, the managerial role requirements needed for superior performance at lower levels of sales management may not be consonant with those needed at higher levels. Because of the absence of empirical evidence, uncertainty thus remains regarding whether perceived role orientations vary by sales management level.

Steep hierarchies are common in many sales organizations. Thus, in most medium- to large-sized companies there tend to be several sales management levels, ordered from bottom to top, as follows: branch sales manager, district sales manager, regional sales manager, zone sales manager, and general or national sales manager. Branch and district sales managers are normally responsible for three to ten salespeople in a district. Three to five districts are the responsibility of each regional sales manager, while zone sales managers tend to command three to five regions. National or general sales managers are in charge of the entire sales force organization and represent its concerns at corporate headquarters (Anderson et al., 1992).

Do sales managers at different organizational levels perceive their role orientation to be disparate from those at other levels? In other words, can sales management positions at successive hierarchical levels be differentiated on the basis of role activities, as perceived by sales managers themselves? The answer to this question is virtually unknown. If, however, perceived role requirements vary by sales manager level, then organizations should be able to develop improved training and development procedures that are attuned to the unique needs of these sales management positions. In an attempt to address partially this oversight in the literature, the purpose of this investigation is to examine empirically whether sales manager perceived role orientations vary by hierarchical level. We define the term "role orientation" as the set of activities, duties, responsibilities, or requirements ascribed or assigned to a given role from the perception of the job incumbent, or sales manager in this case (Ivancevich a nd Matteson, 1987; Katz and Kahn, 1978; Stoner and Wankel, 1986). By examining sales management roles in the organizational hierarchy, direct research and managerial implications should be forthcoming that foster improvement in sales management performance.

Perceptions of sales manager role orientation were investigated rather than company expectations of the role for several reasons. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.