Intentions to Pursue a Sales Career: Integrating Intentions to Study Sales and Learning Experience: An Abstract
Students in business schools are sceptical about their choice of sales as a career in spite of the plethora of sales positions available to management graduates (Peltier et al., 2014). The knowledge of the students and their evaluation of career choices have shaped their own perceptions since they attach more consideration to career and employment (DelVechhio & Honeycutt, 2002). However, academia has stressed more on improving the inherent intention of students towards pursuing a sales career rather than focusing on the underlying factors leading to inferior judgement. One of the ways in which this could be achieved is through a favourable learning experience. In this context, the present study explores the moderating role of learning experience on the effect of intentions to study sales (as a subject) on student opinions towards salespeople and sales careers (that subsequently affects sales as a career choice). The hypotheses tested in the study were related to: positive intention of the students to study sales will result in better perception towards a sales career (H1); favourable perception towards salespersons and sales career will result in higher intention to pursue a sales career (H2); and learning experience moderates the relationship between intention to study sales and opinions towards salespersons and sales career (H3). The measures for the constructs in the conceptual model were derived from existing literature. The data was collected using survey method (n = 294) from final year masters students of a large Indian Business School. The data analysis was conducted in three phases: Phase 1 was exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (EFA and CFA) to assess the dimensionality and reliability and test for convergent and discriminant validity of the study constructs. In phase 2, we ran the structural model without the moderator (learning experience), and in phase 3, we ran the structural model with the moderator. Intentions to study sales as a subject were found to influence student opinions about a sales career and salespersons. The latter opinions are found to affect intentions to pursue a sales career. Learning experience is found to have a positive moderating effect on the relation between intentions to study sales and student opinions about a sales career and salespersons. From a theoretical standpoint, the present study brings together the antecedents and consequences of student opinion towards salespersons and sales career and highlights the role of learning experience in creating a favourable attitude of students towards sales jobs.