A Contingency Approach to Specializing an Industrial Sales Force

Zimmer, Robert J.; Hugstad, Paul S.
March 1981
Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management;Spring/Summer81, Vol. 1 Issue 2, p27
Academic Journal
The article presents several alternative forms of specialization currently used by some firms but which have received little recognition in the marketing literature. Research on the perception-reaction mechanism and interpersonal attraction in dyadic interactions is reviewed briefly in order to provide justification for using such forms. Following this, three different bases for organizing an industrial sales force are discussed and several success stories of major corporations using these approaches are highlighted. Combining the traditional and the three "new" bases of specialization, a conceptual framework for developing a contingency model of specialization for industrial sales forces is presented. Lastly, potential problems and limitations associated with the management of a highly specialized sales force are discussed. arena. By using the traditional forms of specialization exclusively, salespeople are expected to "know the territories," assigned, and to operate on that knowledge.


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