Personal selling behaviors and performance: An examination by account size

Leo Robert Stevens, Louisiana Tech University


The current literature includes a vast number of findings that relate sales performance to a variety of antecedents. This study is the first known research to incorporate account classification with selling behaviors to determine the impact on performance. The selling behaviors studied are customer orientation, competitor orientation, interfunctional orientation, and profit orientation. Although many researchers have studied selling behaviors and the effect on performance (Weitz 1981; Churchill, Ford, and Walker 1985), this is the first known research to consider account size in the research with performance.

The sample included 301 useable responses from a national sample of 404 U.S. and Puerto Rican sales representatives from the national division of an international distribution firm. The data was analyzed using T-test on paired correlation coefficients across account size. The account sizes used were large (A & B) accounts and small (C) accounts. The analysis provided support for many of the posited relationships.

The results indicated that the sales representatives should be aware of the effect of account size when they are being evaluated objectively and modify their customer orientation, competitor orientation, and profit orientation to satisfy the needs of the customer. If subjective measures of performance are only used, the sales manager should insure that his/her sales representatives have a thorough understanding of profit and its relation to the objectives of the firm. Managerial implications, limitations and direction for future research are provided in the study.