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Ruud Kronenburg

DBA Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

INDUSTRIAL SALESPERSON COMPETENCE A CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVE ON ITS DETERMINANTS AND PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES

Supervisor(s)

Benoit Aubert
Christophe Haon

Dr. Kronenburg is adjunct professor of marketing and HRM at Birzeit University, Palestine and visiting professor at ICD Business School, Paris, where he teaches sales and sales innovation and negotiation. He has extensive senior-level international Fortune 100 management experience as well as business and management education expertise. He is a strong advocate of CSR and Purpose.

This study aims to offer renewed, customer perspective on the role of the industrial B2B salesperson. Most researchers agree that the Salesperson’s role is subject to significant change (Colletti and Conko, 1997; Stevens and James, 2012). However, the nature of this change and -more importantly- how to best respond to it from a managerial perspective remains unclear. Additionally, recent studies raise existential questions for the sales role (Jones et al., 2004; Kotler in: Rackham and De Vincentis, 1999), while in other research the role of a B2B salesperson is seen as instrumental for successful implementation of a firm’s marketing strategy (Zoltners et al., 2008). Existing research tends to rely on self- reporting measures for sales performance and sales effectiveness, thus leaving opportunity for introducing a customer perspective (Wachner et al., 2009). This study was conducted over a ten-year period, in close, ongoing collaboration with the partner firm Caterpillar Inc. and its global dealer network. Research topics and questions are rooted in the day-to-day sales reality of the partner firm, and important managerial implications are identified. The combination of a literature study grounded in Churchill’s (1985) determinants of sales performance and a comprehensive cognitive task analysis with the global Caterpillar sales force provided initial research direction, followed by exploratory research with select customers, finally resulting in quantitative customer research that offers a contribution to the theory with several novel hypotheses, and original findings in the area of sales competence, sales encounter satisfaction and customer loyalty. Keywords: sales competence, sales training, sales manager, sales encounter satisfaction, customer commitment, customer loyalty.