The Strategic Role of the Salesforce in Developing Customer Satisfaction Across the Relationship Lifecycle

Jap, Sandy D.
March 2001
Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management;Spring2001, Vol. 21 Issue 2, p95
Academic Journal
The use of salesreps to build trusting relationships and customer satisfaction is a strategic choice in many organizations. Underlying this is an assumption that a trustworthy salesrep can play a critical role in driving the ultimate success of the firm's strategy to enhance an organizational customer's economic and noneconomic satisfaction. In this research, I contend that the customer relationship lifecycle is a critical moderator of the impact of a trustworthy salesrep on customer satisfaction. Survey results of approximately 1400 channel customers indicate that the consequential value of interpersonal trust in a salesrep is both time- and context-dependent. The salesrep plays a minimal role in influencing satisfaction outcomes in the exploration phase of a customer relationship. However, as the relationship progresses through the buildup and mature phases, the interpersonal trust developed with a salesrep can add tremendous value to a customer's satisfaction with the relationship and the firm's products. When the relationship is in decline, the salesrep is useful for creating relationship satisfaction, but has an adverse effect on satisfaction with margins. Implications for the management of organizational customer relationships are discussed.


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