Commentators suggest that the business-to-business sales role is changing and evolving into relationship management. Previous research indicates that a relationship management role is very different from ‘traditional’ sales, and that it may require a different attitude on the part of the relationship manager. This research explores attitudes towards various aspects of relationship management across an entire international business-to-business sales force in a service industry context. We find that attitudes towards relationship management do not in fact align with job role. A cluster analysis reveals three attitudinal types of sales persons: Self-Directed; Team Leaders; and Strategic Sellers. Our findings suggest that some individuals may have attitudes that are inappropriate to their roles, and that attitudes should be taken into account when selecting relationship managers.
Davies, I. A., Ryals, L. J., & Holt, S. (2010). Relationship management: a sales role, or a state of mind? An investigation of functions and attitudes across a business-to-business sales force. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(7), 1049-1062. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2009.12.007