HCBE Faculty Presentations


Salespeople’s Linchpin Role: Salesperson Relational Incongruity and Its Impact on Sales Performance and Customer Ownership

Event Location / Date(s)

New Orleans, LA

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Presentation Date


Conference Name / Publication Title

Proceedings of the 2018 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference


Given the increasing complexity of customer-salesperson relationships, salespeople face unprecedented pressures to acquire, retain, and build enduring customer relationships to enhance the firm’s bottom-line performance. In examining these growing pressures, this study introduces an original construct derived from the attention afforded to relationship selling, the relational incongruity that exists within the buyer-seller exchange. This research addresses the inimitable role of human and relational capital, exemplifying the salesperson’s role set as a crucial resource and cost to the firm. This study has strong theoretical implications that contribute to advancing the knowledge of sales and marketing literature. This timely and relevant research explores resource-advantage theory (Hunt and Morgan 1995) as the theoretical grounding to view salespeople as an essential component of human capital reinforcing the intangibility and psychological capital that is conspicuously absent from the firm’s balance sheet. Additionally, the research examines the strategic implications of a customer-oriented sales force through a conceptual model that is unique in its positioning of independent variables concurrently at the seller-customer and the seller-organizational interaction. The insights into how customer orientation and customer ownership influences sales performance directly tie the importance of salespeople to a firm’s market position and performance. Empirical testing of the conceptual model supports the impact of relational incongruity on customer ownership and salespeople’s performance. The critical part of this research from the managerial side is that it provides a clearer understanding of how salespeople influence the extremely complex and ever-changing firm-salespeople-customer relationship. This clearer understanding helps organizations to understand how their salespeople act as a boundary spanner and a linchpin resource that provides a competitive advantage within the marketplace. These findings also assist sales organizations’ understanding of their unique ability to develop human capital, i.e., salespeople as a resource.