The relationships of customer orientation, adaptive selling and selected antecedents: A causal model

Judy Ann Judice Siguaw, Louisiana Tech University


The objective of this study was to test the relationships among customer orientation, adaptive selling, and possible antecedent variables. The examination of the customer orientation and adaptive selling behaviors of salespersons is important, as selling is an essential element of the marketing strategy of most organizations. The practice of these selling behaviors are proposed to result in increased salesforce effectiveness; consequently, hypothesized antecedents to these behaviors were also examined. The proposed antecedents, as suggested by the social science literature, included role conflict, role ambiguity, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and market orientation of the firm as perceived by the sales personnel.

The sampling frame for this research consisted of those individuals, randomly selected, who were involved in the sale of document imaging supplies, equipment and services. A mail questionnaire was employed for the survey research method. Two mailings of the questionnaire produced 291 cases resulting in a response rate of 17.7 percent. Since the objective of this study was to determine the significance and directionality of relationships among customer orientation, adaptive selling, and possible antecedent variables, the primary method of statistical analysis was structural equation modeling utilizing LISREL (Joreskog and Sorbom 1986).

The statistical analysis revealed fourteen significant relationships among the constructs in the final model. Adaptive selling was found to have positive, direct effects on customer orientation, whereas role conflict had negative, direct effects on customer orientation. Job satisfaction was found to be a positive antecedent of adaptive selling. Job satisfaction and organizational commitment were found to be negatively and directly influenced by role conflict and role ambiguity, but positively affected by each other. A reciprocal relationship was also found to exist between role conflict and role ambiguity. Finally, market orientation was found to positively influence job satisfaction and organizational commitment, but negatively affect role conflict and role ambiguity.

The managerial implications of these research findings were explored, and suggestions for future research were provided. The concluding pages discussed the contributions of this study to marketing practitioners and academicians.