, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 55-72
Date: 30 May 2012

Group influences of selling teams on industrial salespeople’s cross-selling behavior

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Abstract

Cross-selling offers tremendous benefits for both vendors and customers. However, up to 75% of all cross-selling initiatives fail, usually for sales force–related reasons. Yet prior research has largely ignored the role of salespeople in the field of cross-selling. Using a motivation–opportunity–ability (MOA) framework, this research addresses factors that determine a salesperson’s cross-selling performance, including the predominant role of the selling team as a social environment in which individual behavior occurs. A dataset of 231 industrial salespeople working in 55 teams reveals that 37% of overall variation in behavior is caused by differences across teams. The team-specific hypotheses, based on social norms and reputation theory, are tested with a hierarchical linear modeling approach with matched data from three sources. Individual cross-selling motivation has a stronger effect when a selling team has strong cross-selling norms, and in the specific context of cross-selling, selling team reputation can constrain individual behavior that might damage that reputation. Salespeople also develop beliefs about the reasons for their team reputation, including its cross-selling ability, which can reduce an individual salesperson’s reputational concerns and hence reinforce individual cross-selling behavior. These results have significant theoretical and managerial implications.