This study explores the generation and use of competitive intelligence (CI) within the buyer–seller exchange process and its influence on salesperson performance. Using the concept of social capital as a theoretical foundation and multilevel data collected at three time points from 686 customer–salesperson dyads, the authors empirically test a conceptual framework that proposes both antecedents and consequences of CI sharing between customer and salesperson. The results of the study demonstrate that CI sharing by customers is a function of salesperson customer orientation, customer-centric extra-role behaviors, and relationship quality. CI sharing translates into increased perceived value, share-of-wallet, and profit margins when the salesperson utilizes the information to position and differentiate his or her product; however this occurs only when the salesperson has strong adaptive selling skills. Surprisingly, CI negatively influences these outcomes among low-adaptive salespeople, indicating that CI can actually work to a firm’s disadvantage if the salesperson is not equipped to respond to it. These findings suggest that CI must be examined differently than general market knowledge and that firms may leverage CI to their tactical advantage at the salesperson–customer interface if managed effectively.
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The authors thank Jonathon Halbesleben, John Mathieu, Bulent Menguc and five anonymous reviewers for their feedback and suggestions.
Douglas E. Hughes, Joël Le Bon and Adam Rapp contributed equally and are listed alphabetically
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Hughes, D.E., Le Bon, J. & Rapp, A. Gaining and leveraging customer-based competitive intelligence: the pivotal role of social capital and salesperson adaptive selling skills. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 41, 91–110 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-012-0311-8
- Competitive intelligence
- Marketing intelligence
- Social capital
- Adaptive selling
- Multilevel modeling
- Perceived value
- Information use
- Customer orientation