Sales intrafirm networks and the performance impact of sales cross-functional collaboration with marketing and customer service

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This article draws on the growing body of research in sales intrafirm networks and sales management literature to develop and test a model of sales-marketing and sales–customer service cross-functional collaboration with objective sales performance. We posit that the effectiveness of specific structural feature of sales intrafirm networks (i.e., the number and strength of salesperson intrafirm ties) depends on whether cross-functional collaboration occurs with marketing or customer service. These differences exist because each function has distinct goals and competencies. Using network data from salespeople working for a chemical manufacturer, we found that having few sales-marketing total ties increase salesperson performance, while having many ties with customer service results in better sales results. We also found that strong ties with marketing colleagues lead to high sales growth while sales customer service collaboration benefits more when ties are weak. Moderating effects show that the combination of few strong ties with marketing and of many weak ties with customer service boosts salesperson performance. While we found that total ties with marketing have a U-shaped effect on salesperson performance, there is an inverted U-shaped effect for sales customer service collaborations and thus an optimal number of ties. This study advances our understanding of cross-functional collaboration in sales intrafirm network research. From a managerial perspective, our findings suggest that salespeople benefit from network steering capabilities when managing cross-functional contacts. In addition, sales managers benefit from a set of intrafirm network interventions that improve sales-force effectiveness.

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Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management
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