Intraorganizational Adaptiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Examination of Salespeople’s Adaptation Within Their Firms

Gabriel Moreno, University of Texas at El Paso


The role of salespeople in their firms has evolved drastically in the past two decades, especially in the amount of knowledge and skill required to contribute to their firms’ success in the contemporary B2B marketplace. Salespeople are increasingly considered as strategic employees who can provide a competitive advantage for their firms by providing intelligence gathered from their deep engagement in the marketplace. Modern salespeople act as consultants, relationship managers, and solution specialists, among many other roles. Due to the marked changes in the roles carried out by salespeople today, this investigation sets out to examine the most current developments in sales research focused on sales performance, which is considered a vital metric because it provides a practical measure of a firm’s performance. In particular, this manuscript examines one of the most novel research streams in the sales literature today. While still in its infancy, and even though researchers have subtly advocated for its relevance for more than twenty years, the intraorganizational dimension of the sales role (IDSR) is fast becoming difficult to ignore. This dissertation contributes to the current exploration of the IDSR by proposing a new construct labeled intraorganizational adaptiveness (IA). Intraorganizational adaptiveness is supported by our current understanding of adaptive selling and market orientation. It leverages the novel scientific knowledge about IDSR to examine the adaptive-type behaviors that salespeople enact inside their firms to offer superior customer value. This manuscript employs four essays to provide academicians and practitioners with an in-depth understanding of this emerging marketing phenomenon. The first essay conducts a comprehensive and exhaustive inspection of the marketing literature that emphasizes sales performance. A sample of more than 9,000 peer-reviewed articles published in academic business journals in the past 119 years was analyzed based on their bibliographic data. The result from this analysis revealed a nuanced depiction of scholarly efforts, which includes the most prolific authors, most influential articles, and the evolution of topics addressed by authors. In addition, a network analysis uncovered the conceptual, intellectual, and social structures that have produced the current body of knowledge on sales performance. Lastly, a main path analysis leveraging an advanced technique outlines the main artery of scientific knowledge devoted to the study of sales performance. This main path exposed six clusters comprised of twenty-six milestone papers that trace the development of topics and research interests within the sales performance literature. The underlying themes embodied by these six clusters include (1) salesperson satisfaction, (2) job stress and turnover, (3) sales control systems, (4) relationship selling, (5) customer orientation and leadership support, and (6) internal selling and salespeople’s influence. The second essay concentrates its scientific inquiry on cluster number six and aims to execute a systematic literature review to inform how IA manifests itself in salespeople’s roles inside their firms, the factors, variables, and constructs that exert influence on the relationship between IA and sales performance. A systematic literature review will provide a comprehensive, objective, and reliable overview of salient scientific knowledge by reviewing academic articles using a rigorous approach that closely follows the scientific method. In doing so, researcher biases are minimized, and an auditable trail of all of the researcher’s decisions is described to offer unequivocal transparency (Tranfield, Denyer, and Smart 2003). The results of this systematic literature review identify the key contributions to the sales literature, allowing its intellectual landscape to be portrayed thematically. As such, this essay should serve to stimulate academic curiosity, promoting research endeavors that extend our current comprehension of salespeople’s adaptations inside their firms pertaining to the IDSR, as well as its relationship to sales performance. The third essay builds on the findings of essay number two by proposing a novel construct that conveys the power encapsulated by the IDSR, which is posited to be a significant determinant of sales performance. The proposed construct, labeled as intraorganizational adaptiveness, merges adaptive selling with the IDSR within the market orientation framework to produce a construct that clearly explains what is occurring within sales-driven organizations in the modern B2B sales environment. Intraorganizational adaptiveness is described as a market-oriented selling behavior that increases the effectiveness of salespeople’s efforts to advocate for their customers’ success inside their firm, which can ultimately result in enhanced customer satisfaction and superior sales performance. This newly-developed construct is operationalized using a multi-stage procedure to establish a theoretically-sound marketing measure with robust nomological validity. Moreover, the effect of intraorganizational adaptiveness on two managerially-relevant variables (customer relationship quality and sales performance) is assessed. Essay number four evaluates salespeople’s performance leveraging a benchmarking technique that identifies improvement opportunities, maximizing individual level efficiency (Boles, Donthu, and Lothia 1995). More specifically, salespeople’s efficiency while engaging in intraorganizational adaptiveness is studied using a non-parametric method called data envelopment analysis (DEA) (Charnes et al. 1978). The results from this study provide academics and practitioners with actionable recommendations to improve salespeople’s productivity while ensuring customers’ success. The focus of this study is shifted from doing the right things (i.e., effectiveness) to doing the things right (i.e., efficiency). Holistically, this assemblage of essays provides an in-depth examination of one of the most promising marketing phenomena as it relates to personal selling and sales management—salespeople’s enactment of behaviors inside their firms to proactively adapt to the ever-increasing demands and complexities in the marketplace in order to enhance their customers’ successes. Collectively, the findings reveal that practitioners’ renewed interest in findings ways to enhance individual level sales performance, while simultaneously improving customer outcomes has motivated academicians to increase their research efforts on this subject. Additionally, this re-invigorated interest in customer-focused sales performance has led to the exploration of non-traditional sales roles and activities that occur outside of the regular salesperson-customer interaction. In conclusion, this investigation provides evidence that IA is a relevant selling behavior that improves managerially-relevant outcomes, such as increasing the quality of customer relationships and enhancing sales performance. Furthermore, IA is a behavior that facilitates the internal coordination of sales resources inside selling firms that results in efficiency gains, empowering firms to produce more with less.

Subject Area

Marketing|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Moreno, Gabriel, "Intraorganizational Adaptiveness: Conceptual and Empirical Examination of Salespeople’s Adaptation Within Their Firms" (2021). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28496955.