Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 795–812 | Cite as

When does salespeople’s customer orientation lead to customer loyalty? The differential effects of relational and functional customer orientation

  • Christian HomburgEmail author
  • Michael Müller
  • Martin Klarmann
Original Empirical Research


Is a customer orientation universally effective for salespeople? Or does its effectiveness depend on the selling situation? While previous research has largely neglected this question, this study investigates contextual influences on the link between customer-oriented behaviors and customer loyalty. To do so, it takes a role theory perspective on salesperson customer orientation by distinguishing functional customer orientation and relational customer orientation. It then investigates which type of customer orientation is more effective with regard to establishing and maintaining customer loyalty, given the specific situation. Here, the authors analyze the moderating impact of a customer’s communication style (task orientation and interaction orientation) and specific characteristics of a supplier’s products (product individuality, importance, complexity, and brand strength). Multilevel analysis of triadic data from a cross-industry survey of 56 sales managers, 195 sales representatives, and 538 customers provides empirical support for positive, non significant, and even adverse effects of salespeople’s customer-oriented behaviors on customer loyalty, depending on contextual variables.


Personal selling Customer orientation Buyer–seller relationships Customer loyalty Multilevel modeling 


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Homburg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Müller
    • 2
  • Martin Klarmann
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Market-Oriented ManagementUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Oskar Widmer GmbH64646 HeppenheimGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Market-Oriented ManagementUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany

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