Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing

Published by Emerald

Print ISSN: 0885-8624


Analysis of Customer Portfolio and Relationship Management Models : Bridging Managerial Dimensions
  • Article
  • Full-text available

January 2004


5,042 Reads


Purpose The customer portfolio and relationship management have been of contemporary interest to the academics and practitioners. This paper aims to systematically analyze the review and critique of this important area and broadly to discuss the customer portfolio theories and their implications in reference to marketing and purchasing perspectives. Design/methodology/approach The major conceptual contributions in the area of customer portfolio and relationship management have been categorically analyzed in the paper. The paper provides an insight of how marketers interpret and describe companies' actions and the discussion provides a framework for relationship management, the central tenet of which is to enable managers to invest their resources in the most efficient and effective way. Findings The review of literature shows that the customer portfolio analysis can provide strategic input to the firm towards developing a successful planning process. The conceptual discussion in the paper on relationship management may lead the strategies in managing the corporate social capital. The alternative models have been developed in the paper in reference to the market environment and values concepts discussing the triadic relationship among the organization, supplier and customer that reflects on the contemporary managerial perspectives. Originality/value The managerial implications of the discussion presented in the paper would be helpful to plan and create strategies to optimize returns on customer relationship over time. This paper would be of interest to the scholars as well as practitioners engaged in strategic planning of a firm.

Success factors in key accounts

April 2006


1,160 Reads

Purpose The paper seeks to present research that examines the success factors for key accounts within firms, i.e. what factors lead to successful versus unsuccessful key accounts. Design/methodology/approach Data from a consulting firm are analyzed to examine the success factors for key accounts within firms. Findings The results suggest that marketers' relational assets, personal/social bonds, dissatisfaction, and change in environment are the primary drivers of key account success. Research limitations/implications The paper summarizes one's understanding in this area and provides additional data that will allow firms to re‐evaluate their strategies regarding success of specific key accounts. In the light of the sample, additional studies are suggested. Practical implications Marketers need to invest more in relational assets, personal/social bonds, and satisfaction activities as well as monitor changes in the environment. Originality/value Key accounts have become an integral part of most business firms, as key account teams are created to provide extra attention to important customers and to allow a consolidation of selling activities to geographically dispersed large customer firms. Previous research has examined the success factors of key account programs between firms and this paper provides data on the success factors of key accounts within firms.

Customer-initiated influence tactics in sales and marketing activities

October 2006


148 Reads

Purpose This paper seeks to describe supplier coordination of sales and marketing activities to manage customer relationships. Design/methodology/approach Six propositions are suggested that examine the drivers dictating how customers initiate influence tactics for their benefit in dealing with their suppliers. Findings Illustrations are provided to show how and when the marketing and sales functions come close to synergistic efforts and what hinders them from doing so. Research limitations/implications Although influence tactics have a rich history in social psychology and organizational behavior research, more influence tactics must be tested using various samples and multiple methods in the customer‐supplier realm of selling and marketing activities. Practical implications Understanding trust, commitment, and cooperation from the supplier's perspective, enhances one's ability to understand why the sales and marketing functions must work together to program a defense mechanism against customers that are initiating influence tactics against them. Originality/value The study presents useful information for the coordination of sales and marketing activities.

Figure 1 Steps in systems thinking research
Advancing systems thinking and building microworlds in business and industrial marketing

January 2006


299 Reads

Purpose This article sets out to describe the benefits of systems thinking in overcoming short‐sighted decision making in business and industrial marketing. Design/methodology/approach The article illustrates specific tools and recent applications of systems thinking research. Findings The basic building‐blocks for creating microworlds are the claims made by stakeholders running and affected by real‐life systems. Research limitations/implications Suggestions for future research includes transforming research designs from linear one‐way models to models expressly recognizing time delays, feedback loops among variables, and seemingly hidden, unimportant relationships. Practical implications All business exchanges involve systems and there is more complexity than is readily apparent; systems thinking helps decision makers to deeply understand what is really happening. Originality/value This article advises replacing the one‐direction thinking and research paradigm that dominates business and industrial marketing with systems thinking and system dynamics modeling; the article identifies examples and the literature necessary to embrace this alternative paradigm.

The role of cyber-intermediaries: A framework based on transaction cost analysis, agency, relationship marketing and social exchange theories

October 2007


370 Reads

Purpose The purpose of his paper is to define the role of cyber‐intermediaries based on several theories such as transaction cost analysis, agency, social exchange, and relationship marketing. Design/methodology/approach This is a conceptual piece that uses arguments from well‐established theories in marketing and management Findings This paper suggests that cyber‐intermediaries will continue to add value to the producer‐consumer chain, benefiting both the producers and the consumers. Practical implications The nature and type of products and services will define the role of the intermediary. They may be more useful in the low cost but frequently purchased product categories. Originality/value The paper presents an integration of existing theories to understand the role of cyber‐intermediaries.

Organizational configuration as an antecedent to buying centers' size and structure

June 2005


126 Reads

Purpose Recent research suggests that organizations cycle through a small set of possible configurations. Each buying center as an informal organization within one of these four viable types of structure will exhibit distinct configuration attributes. Describing and predicting the buying center's configuration as indicated by organizational structure are the purpose of this research. Design/methodology/approach Data collected via mail survey are used to classify organizations into hypothesized segments via K‐means cluster analysis. Buying center structure is contrasted and tested for differences using MANOVA, MDA, and post hoc t ‐tests. Findings The extensivity or level of participation in the buying center is significantly related to the type of organization. Organizational formalization and centralization are consistently related to the formalization and centrality of the buying center. Research limitations/implications The generalizability of the findings is limited as the sample is from a single US geographical area. Buying center participation and structure may be a function of the product. Research findings are limited to a specific service. Practical implications Awareness of the structure of the buying center is useful for marketing and sales managers. This knowledge can guide their efforts to allocate scarce sales resources at appropriate levels for business customers. Originality/value This paper closes a gap in the business‐to‐business marketing literature about antecedents to the buying center's structure.

Global approaches to the service business in manufacturing companies

August 2011


164 Reads

Purpose The article aims to investigate how product manufacturing firms can configure their global service approach. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative, multi‐case research design was employed. Findings The following four global service approaches could be identified: integrated and ethnocentric; integrated and polycentric; separated and polycentric; and separated and geocentric. Research limitations/implications The research findings are limited in generalizability because of the qualitative research approach. Practical implications Exploring global forms of and supply chain configurations for services supports the efforts of manufacturing firms in developing new service‐based and relationship‐based value propositions. Originality/value The study contributes to the debate on integrating versus separating the service organization. It offers a complementary explanation on integrating and separating the service business, through a differentiation into central and local (market) organizations.

Figure 1 Five components of the business-marketing offer 
Branding the business marketing offer: Exploring brand attributes in business markets

August 2007


10,622 Reads

Purpose - The paper seeks to provide a framework identifying key attributes that business marketers can use to build a strong brand identity. Design/methodology/approach - The article is theoretical with case examples. Findings - Drawing upon the business marketing offer, five potential strategies for building brands in business markets are outlined. Practical implications - The paper identifies a contingent approach to brand identity in business markets. Originality/value - This is the first paper to identify a relationship between positioning, the buying process and brand identity in business markets.

The role of inter-personal relationships in the dissolution of business relationships

March 2009


930 Reads

Purpose This paper aims to explore the role that inter‐personal relationships play in promoting or hindering the dissolution of business relationships operating in the UK food industry. Design/methodology/approach The case study methodology was used to explore the dissolution of 11 business relationships and the role of inter‐personal relationships therein. Findings The findings demonstrate the critical role of personal relationships in the dissolution processing, acting as a catalyst, a precipitator and an extenuating factor in the dissolution process. Research limitations/implications The case studies draw exclusively on the experiences and perceptions of suppliers to uncover the dynamics of dissolved business relationships. However, this is not surprising, given the sensitive nature of the subject. Moreover, the two‐stage methodology used for identifying case study candidates should prove beneficial to other researchers in this area. Practical implications The case study findings illustrate that important though they are, personal relationships are a means to an end not an end in themselves. Failure to use close personal relationships to deliver commercial benefits leaves the supplier vulnerable. Originality/value This is one of very few papers to provide empirical evidence of the dissolution process in business relationships, using a novel case study methodology that may prove useful for other researchers working in this under‐researched area.

Figure 1 The components of career development  
Examining career development programs for the sales force

August 2006


6,017 Reads

Purpose The purpose of this article is to explore career development programs for the sales force including benefits, implementation and managerial implications. Design/methodology/approach Career development programs are viewed through a conceptual model consisting of assessment, direction and development. Findings This paper provides a comprehensive list of the benefits of a career development program for sales forces. Practical implications The conceptual model can serve as a checklist for sales managers to evaluate, add to or modify their programs. The conceptual model also provides a framework for tying together many disparate areas of career development that have been handled separately or ignored in the sales management literature. Originality/value This paper provides a comprehensive conceptual model of career development that has not been present in the sales management literature. This should be useful to sales managers in evaluating their own career development efforts. The framework should also be useful to sales management scholars who teach and do research in this area.

Mapping Relationships in China: Guanxi Dynamic Approach

February 2000


163 Reads

One of the major hot research topics is relationship marketing. However, limited research has been carried out on the complex notion of guanxi (literally, relationship) in Chinese society. Misunderstandings and misconceptions concerning this significant topic persist. Aims to explore the mapping of guanxi in relationship marketing so as to present a comprehensive guanxi model suitable for businessmen in a Chinese context. Case examples were also used to test the model in a real-life situation. Both theoretical and managerial implications are given. The theoretical framework includes a new model of various systems: guanxi perceptual map, routings and yin-yang dynamic. The managerial implications explore guanxi mechanisms and different dynamic perspectives with mind-heart and insider-outsider dimensions. In addition, recommendations for future research are made.

Understanding sales quotas: An exploratory investigation of consequences of failure

January 2004


394 Reads

Sales quotas typically "drive" sales organizations. As such, the ability of the sales organization, both individually (the salesperson) and the group (the total collection of the sales professionals), to accomplish its quota has a significant impact on the performance of the sales and marketing organization, as well as the entire firm. Within the context of this use, quotas represent a critical sales goal, although very little is actually known about their strategic or operational use within marketing organizations. The purpose of this paper is to investigate quotas from a strategic and operational perspective to provide additional insight into understanding sales quotas. Specifically, this manuscript investigates the consequences of failing to achieve quota and the relationship between these consequences and salesperson performance, salesperson income, and the firm's annual sales revenue. In addition, the relationship between these variables and quota difficulty, and quota performance are explored.

Customer satisfaction and the marketing-quality interface

June 2003


82 Reads

Despite long-standing interest in the quality movement by marketing scholars, marketing managers have not seized opportunities to provide leadership as the quality movement has centered attention on customer satisfaction. Significant corporate investments in quality programs suggest that the recent revision of the ISO 9000 standards to focus on collection and use of customer satisfaction data may provide marketing managers an invitation to meaningfully enter the quality dialogue. Collaboration between marketing and quality management is problematic because the two functions are highly differentiated. This article draws on work in organizational learning and organizational behavior to identify criteria for successful collaboration between marketing and quality management and to propose a process for meeting the new ISO 9000 requirements.

For dynamic relationship marketing theory: A reply to Rese

February 2006


348 Reads

Purpose The authors propose to reply to the comment by Mario Rese on the article “The explanatory foundations of relationship marketing theory.” Design/methodology/approach This paper provides a critical analysis. Findings The comment of Rese has misspecified the major problems facing those firms adopting relationship marketing‐based strategies. Practical implications In order to find the answers as to why some relationship marketing efforts are successful and others are not, marketing managers must look at more than one research tradition. Originality/value This paper clarifies the eight types of factors that influence relationship marketing‐based strategy success.

The ins and outs of electronic publishing

February 1996


14 Reads

Electronic publishing needs a strong input of marketing thinking. Technological hype has created a sales fetish which has little evidence to support its claims. The substantive benefits when a broader perspective is taken for authors and readers are very significant, including considerably faster publication and much wider dissemination via Internet. Archival knowledge and current awareness/browsing of the body of knowledge and information require quite different marketing approaches. Little attention has been given to their discrete needs. Draws comparisons from retailing theory and from the emerging range of experimental cases from Internet pioneers to identify robust strategies for short- and medium-term action by publishers. They imply a determined effort to avoid hard selling and product-driven mindsets in favor of exploitation of the scope for interactive and integrated marketing to authors and readers alike.

Planned and spontaneous orders in the emerging network society

January 2006


33 Reads

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the emergence of the network society from the perspective of planned and spontaneous order. Design/methodology/approach Conceptual analysis based on extensive familiarization with literature. Findings The network society does not increase either planned or spontaneous ordering of economic activity, but their interplay. Research limitations/implications The paper produces a number of research implications at global, industry, relationship and firms levels of analysis. Practical implications Businesses should craft practical strategies and policies on the assumption of constant change, build networking capabilities and be reactive to discontinuities in technologies and business models. Originality/value The paper is a unique multi‐level account of the impact of the network society on the type of economic ordering it creates.

Industry viewpoint: Relational interdependency and punctuated equilibrium

March 1998


8 Reads

A better understanding of relational interdependency can help a buyer manage an effective level of commitment with a supplier and, consequently, increase successful exchange outcomes. The buyer which successfully manages relational commitment, encourages the supplier to make transaction-specific investments for the buyer-supplier working partnership. However, as the supplier makes these non-redeployable investments, it also increases dependence on the buyer. The caveat is that a supplier which perceives a decline in buyer commitment will likely act to decrease this dependency on the buyer.

Food product traceability and supply network integration

June 2009


244 Reads

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to develop a more precise conceptual understanding of the interplay between food product traceability and supply network integration. Design/methodology/approach A resource‐based network approach was used to create a framework with empirical evidence from a fresh strawberry product case. Findings A conceptual model describes product traceability as interacting with different organizational and informational resources. Research limitations/implications This is a preliminary model that substantiates a cross‐functional approach teamwork‐based to developing product traceability. Originality/value The study shows developing food product traceability as a complex undertaking dependent on information connectivity including a technical aspect of supply chain integration, and different forms of knowledge, an organizational aspect of supply chain integration.

Figure 1 The hypothesized model 
Sales presentation skills and salesperson job performance

August 2006


20,429 Reads

Purpose The purpose of this article is to examine the relations between important sales presentation skills and salesperson job performance. Design/methodology/approach Data on each construct in the model was gathered and the relations analyzed using LISREL software. Findings Salesperson experience, and to a lesser degree training, underlie sales presentation skills. Salesperson skill at using adaptive selling techniques and closing are related with increased performance. Research limitations/implications Additional sales skills need to be considered and salespeople other than those in the B‐B environment should be studied. Practical implications Sales managers are urged to ensure their B‐B salespeople develop their skills in adaptive communication and closing as one means to improve sales performance. Originality/value The findings highlight the importance of salesperson experience and training in developing the skills that contribute to sales performance.

Aligning industrial services with strategies and sources of market differentiation

June 2011


142 Reads

Purpose The purpose of the paper is to investigate how product‐centric businesses (PCBs), operating in a business‐to‐business environment, develop industrial services to align with their services strategies and sources of market differentiation. PCBs are companies whose businesses were historically based on the products, rather than the services, that they sold. Design/methodology/approach This was a UK‐based study that included interviews with 40 managers in 25 industrial companies for whom services are a market differentiator. Findings The empirical results show that PCBs' industrial services are aligned with their services strategies and sources of market differentiation and can be categorised, i.e. “discrete services”, closely linked to PCB‐supplied products, either their own or those of other suppliers; “product lifecycle services”, concerned with product‐related activities throughout the lifecycle of a PCB's products; “output‐based solutions”, providing solutions to customers' operational issues. Modularity in design means that service categories are often backward compatible, meaning that PCBs supplying output‐based solutions can also supply product lifecycle and discrete services. Research limitations/implications The main limitation is the focus on the perspective of suppliers, with customers likely to impact which service offerings PCBs provide. Practical implications PCBs should align industrial services with their resources that provide market differentiation, for example related to their products or relationships with other parties. Whilst it can be valuable to increase the range and depth of services provided to customers, creating modular offerings will ensure that customers are able to find an appropriate level of services engagement with their product suppliers. Originality/value The study provides a new typology of PCB service categories that are related to services strategies and sources of market differentiation.

Towards an Integrated Framework of Key Account Management

June 2008


1,059 Reads

Purpose The purpose of the paper is to identify the elements of professional key account management programs, to understand the success factors and to create an integrated framework. Design/methodology/approach The article is based on an analysis of the existing literature as well as on several qualitative research projects. Existing content from around 30 years of KAM research and practice was reviewed. A total of 18 companies were analyzed using case study methods and action research approaches. A total of 27 interviews with practitioners and 18 workshops were conducted to conceptualize the integrated KAM framework. Findings Key account management is more complex than the existing literature suggests and companies believe. A professional KAM framework addresses two different target groups: key account managers (and teams) and the company's management (or someone the responsibility of the entire program is delegated to). Both groups have to pay attention to five dimensions of KAM (named strategy, solution, people, management, screening) and several aspects that are different for each group. Practical implications A full overview about all the necessary elements of a professional KAM program can be used to assess a company's ways of working with strategic customers and to conceptualize or optimize an entire KAM program. Originality/value The presented framework is the first that integrates the different views of the two most important target groups of KAM. It offers a unique overview of all important elements.

Building a European Presence through Acquisitions and Brand Management

December 1992


5 Reads

Discusses the example of the Whirlpool Corporation and its penetration of the European market in recent years. Examines the stages in the performance loop used to develop and sell products in any given market. Summarizes the approaches formulated from the planning stages above, such as acquisition, together with the introduction and positioning of new and existing brand names in the correct marketsegment. Concludes that marketing globally requires a flexible approach in order to meet the differing competitive scenarios.

Business-to-business: A value-added service to build opportunity

December 1987


34 Reads

Utilization of the telephone to add incremental business is now an accepted merchandising approach. What only a few short years ago was viewed as “nuisance calls” has now developed into a second-level marketing arm at firms and associations across the country. This report overviews this “newest” marketing tool — its roots, structure, pitfalls, and potential.

An Extended Framework for Adjusting Channel Strategies in Industrial Markets

December 1992


9 Reads

Considers the need for industrial producers (intermediaries) to be flexible and adapt their channel, e.g. commercial and consumption, strategies to the changing demands of producers and end users. Summarizes that the differing outputs demanded by the above – e.g. steady flow of consumption and stock inventory for the former, product variety and waiting time for the latter – should not conflict even though end users dictate the intermediaries priorities. Concludes that intermediaries should position themselves effectively between producers and end users and differentiate in order to retain their niche and avoid being taken over, the above being capable of performing many of their functions themselves.

Does Intra-Firm Diffusion of innovation lead to inter-firm relationship benefits? The cases of innovation Providers and Adopters

June 2014


50 Reads

Purpose – This study aims to fill the void of previous research in organizational innovation. The understanding of the factors that affect intra-firm diffusion of innovations, which include the proactive management support and participation comprehensiveness from the adopting firm, as well as the provider’s support of innovation utilization has been advanced. In addition, the extent to which the consequent intra-firm diffusion affects both the adopter’s and provider’s benefits has been explored based on their relationship. Design/methodology/approach – A mail questionnaire on the organizational purchase and utilization of customer relationship management (CRM)-type database systems was developed for collecting data. A random sample of 480 firms from the Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce Directory was obtained. From the initial phone calls, 343 firms currently using a CRM-type database system were identified, and the questionnaires were mailed to the managers of these firms. In total, 163 responses were finally returned with usable data, for a response rate of 47.5 per cent. Findings – The current study focuses on the causes and the effects associated with successful diffusion and utilization of innovation within a firm. Using data from business-to-business markets, the results find that the two parties involved benefit when both proactively participate in the intra-firm diffusion process; that is, benefits are created for the adopter via improvement in efficiency; and for the provider via establishment of a long-term relationship and switching costs. Research limitations/implications – First, any moderating impact of the adopting firm’s technological capabilities was not analyzed. Second, the research results were obtained from a sample of software product innovations (especially database management system). Even though it could be assumed that these results can also be applicable to other types of innovations (e.g. process innovations), empirical tests of our framework based on different innovation typologies are still warranted. Practical implications – First, for an innovation-adopting firm, we have shown that a wide use of purchased innovations among the organizational members is at least as important as the adoption of new innovations. Second, we have included the participation comprehensiveness of adoption decision, arguing that the organizational decision-making process is also crucial to stimulating intra-firm diffusion. Finally, and more importantly, our study calls attention to the provider’s role in expediting intra-firm diffusion. Originality/value – First, we have suggested an analytic framework for intra-firm diffusion of an innovation and also provided its empirical support. Particularly, the current study has focused on the subsequent effects of intra-firm diffusion on both the adopter’s and the provider’s benefits. Second, we have examined further impact of the comprehensive participation of adoption decision on spreading innovation information, which subsequently stimulates the innovation’s intra-firm diffusion.

Top-cited authors