Managing Sales Force Product Perceptions and Control Systems in the Success of New Product Introductions

Ahearne, Michael; Rapp, Adam; Hughes, Douglas E; Jindal, Rupinder
August 2010
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);Aug2010, Vol. 47 Issue 4, p764
Academic Journal
Given the importance of new products, firms may be prone to overmanage sales personnel by using behavior-based control systems that dictate the performance of particular activities related to the introduction. Such controls may be especially tempting given the findings that favorable salesperson product perceptions actually yield less effort on the new product, and behavior-based controls can offset this tendency. However, using longitudinal data from a sample of 226 salespeople, along with external ratings from customers and archival measures of effort and sales performance, the authors demonstrate that such a strategy is shortsighted. Behavior-based controls constrain a salesperson's ability to appropriately allocate effort across his or her customer base, negatively affecting customer product perceptions and, ultimately, new product sales. In contrast, outcome-based control systems enable salespeople to work smarter, and their corresponding effort on behalf of the new product has a more positive effect on customer product perceptions and new product sales.


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