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Salesforce Compensation Plans in Environments with Asymmetric Information


  • Rajiv Lal

    (Stanford University)

  • Richard Staelin

    (Duke University)


In this paper, we present a theory of salesforce compensation plans to provide insights into why it may be advantageous for a profit maximizing firm to offer members of its salesforce the opportunity to choose from a menu of compensation plans. Although such contractual arrangements are not commonly used in the industry, they have been introduced and implemented by firms such as IBM and St. Regis Paper. As in our previous work on salesforce compensation plans (Basu, Lal, Srinivasan, and Staelin [Basu, A. K., R. Lal, V. Srinivasan, R. Staelin. 1985. Salesforce compensation plans: An agency theoretic perspective. (Fall) 267–291.]) we use an agency-theory framework. In this paper, we relax the assumptions of information symmetry and salesforce homogeneity and show the conditions under which it is optimal to offer a menu of compensation plans. We also show that even when these assumptions are relaxed there are situations where offering a single plan characterized by Basu, Lal, Srinivasan, and Staelin (Basu, A. K., R. Lal, V. Srinivasan, R. Staelin. 1985. Salesforce compensation plans: An agency theoretic perspective. (Fall) 267–291.) is still optimal. Insights gained from the analyses are discussed in the context of an existing compensation scheme.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajiv Lal & Richard Staelin, 1986. "Salesforce Compensation Plans in Environments with Asymmetric Information," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 5(3), pages 179-198.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:5:y:1986:i:3:p:179-198

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    Cited by:

    1. Mrinal Ghosh & George John, 2000. "Experimental Evidence for Agency Models of Salesforce Compensation," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(4), pages 348-365, August.
    2. Baojun Jiang & Kinshuk Jerath & Kannan Srinivasan, 2011. "Firm Strategies in the "Mid Tail" of Platform-Based Retailing," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(5), pages 757-775, September.
    3. Darmon, Rene Y., 2002. "Salespeople's management of customer information: Impact on optimal territory and sales force sizes," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 162-176, February.
    4. Birendra K. Mishra & Ashutosh Prasad, 2004. "Centralized Pricing Versus Delegating Pricing to the Salesforce Under Information Asymmetry," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(1), pages 21-27, January.
    5. Kissan Joseph & Alex Thevaranjan, 1998. "Monitoring and Incentives in Sales Organizations: An Agency-Theoretic Perspective," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 107-123.
    6. Steven M. Shugan, 2007. "—Causality, Unintended Consequences and Deducing Shared Causes," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(6), pages 731-741, 11-12.
    7. Lee, Chung-Yee & Yang, Ruina, 2013. "Compensation plan for competing salespersons under asymmetric information," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 227(3), pages 570-580.
    8. Sanjog Misra & Anne Coughlan & Chakravarthi Narasimhan, 2005. "Salesforce Compensation: An Analytical and Empirical Examination of the Agency Theoretic Approach," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 5-39, January.
    9. Murali Mantrala & Sönke Albers & Fabio Caldieraro & Ove Jensen & Kissan Joseph & Manfred Krafft & Chakravarthi Narasimhan & Srinath Gopalakrishna & Andris Zoltners & Rajiv Lal & Leonard Lodish, 2010. "Sales force modeling: State of the field and research agenda," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 255-272, September.
    10. Sumitro Banerjee & Alex P. Thevaranjan, 2013. "How to deal with unprofitable customers? A salesforce compensation perspective," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-13-05, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
    11. Holtrop, Niels & Wieringa, Jakob & Gijsenberg, Maarten & Stern, P., 2016. "Competitive reactions to personal selling," Research Report 16004-MARK, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    12. repec:eee:ijrema:v:27:y:2010:i:1:p:58-68 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Øystein Foros & Kåre P. Hagen & Hans Jarle Kind, 2009. "Price-Dependent Profit Sharing as a Channel Coordination Device," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(8), pages 1280-1291, August.
    14. Fangruo Chen, 2000. "Sales-Force Incentives and Inventory Management," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 2(2), pages 186-202, February.
    15. Fangruo Chen, 2005. "Salesforce Incentives, Market Information, and Production/Inventory Planning," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(1), pages 60-75, January.
    16. Ayc{s}e Kocab{i}y{i}kou{g}lu & Ioana Popescu, 2007. "Managerial Motivation Dynamics and Incentives," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(5), pages 834-848, May.
    17. Anil Gaba & Ajay Kalra, 1999. "Risk Behavior in Response to Quotas and Contests," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(3), pages 417-434.
    18. Preyas S. Desai, 2001. "Quality Segmentation in Spatial Markets: When Does Cannibalization Affect Product Line Design?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(3), pages 265-283, August.
    19. Albers, Sonke, 1996. "Optimization models for salesforce compensation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 1-17, February.
    20. John Rust & Richard Staelin, 2011. "Rust’s and Staelin’s Comments on: “A structural model of sales force compensation dynamics: estimation and field implementation” by Sanjog Misra and Harikesh Nair," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 259-265, September.
    21. Pradeep Bhardwaj, 2001. "Delegating Pricing Decisions," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(2), pages 143-169, September.
    22. Kyle Hyndman & Santiago Kraiselburd & Noel Watson, 2013. "Aligning Capacity Decisions in Supply Chains When Demand Forecasts Are Private Information: Theory and Experiment," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 15(1), pages 102-117, March.
    23. Banker, Rajiv D. & Lee, Seok-Young & Potter, Gordon, 1996. "A field study of the impact of a performance-based incentive plan," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 195-226, April.


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