Salesperson Performance and Commitment and Buyer Relational Behaviors as Antecedents of Buyer’s Desire for Business Relationship with Suppliers: An Abstract
Many account executives (AE) are responsible for expanding a buyer’s scope of business with suppliers and building relationships between the two parties to leverage mutual benefits. The AE plays a central role in developing relationships and is the focus of substantial investment by firms. The question this paper addresses is: How does the AE influence the buyer’s desire for a relationship with its suppliers?
The paper specifically examines the role of AE performance and AE commitment to the relationship (both from the customer perspective) play in determining buyer satisfaction with the supplier and investment with that supplier firm. The study further examines the effect of buyer investment and satisfaction on cooperative norms in the relationship and the buyer’s desire for a relationship with the supplier. We also examine various covariates such as years in a buyer role, scope and type of customer, length of the existing relationship, and the size of the customer.
The sample is from 190 key accounts of a major telecom firm. As proposed, buyer-rated salesperson performance and commitment to the client firm were significantly related (p < 0.01) to both buyer satisfaction with the supplier and buyer investments into the relationship. As hypothesized, buyer satisfaction and investments into the relationship were significantly related to cooperative norms (p < 0.01). Cooperative norms played a mediating role between those constructs and the buyer’s desire for a continued relationship (p < 0.01).
While not necessarily groundbreaking, the study indicates that the AE is critical in the formation of relationships and that buyer perceptions of the AE’s actions are the key motivator in the supplier being willing to increase their relationship with the AE’s firm. While a salesperson may do a great deal for a client, it is the client’s perceptions (not necessarily reality) that drive the customer firm’s level of commitment. Communication between the AE and supplying firm with the client firm is essential in making sure that the client understands all that the supplier is doing for the customer in order to insure the relationship grows and intensifies.