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Salesperson ambidexterity in customer engagement: do customer base characteristics matter?

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  • Son K. Lam

    (University of Georgia)

  • Thomas E. DeCarlo

    (University of Alabama – Birmingham)

  • Ashish Sharma

    (University of North Carolina – Charlotte)

Abstract

Drawing from the interactional psychology of personality and multitasking paradigm, we examine the contingencies of salesperson orientation ambidexterity in the “exploration” of new customers (i.e., hunting) and the “exploitation” of existing customers (i.e., farming) to achieve sales growth and make time allocation decisions. The results from a field study and an experiment indicate that the impact of salesperson orientation ambidexterity is contingent on a salesperson’s customer base characteristics. First, a salesperson’s orientation ambidexterity in both hunting and farming leads to significantly higher (lower) sales growth when his or her existing customer base is large (small). Second, high levels of customer base newness in a salesperson’s customer portfolio weaken the relationship between hunting time allocation at time t – 1 and hunting time allocation at time t, suggesting that salespeople are not subject to a success trap in hunting. However, salespeople are subject to a success trap in farming. These findings shed new light on how a salesperson’s customer portfolio influences salesperson behaviors and performance, with implications for how to better manage ambidextrous behaviors in customer engagement.

Suggested Citation

  • Son K. Lam & Thomas E. DeCarlo & Ashish Sharma, 2019. "Salesperson ambidexterity in customer engagement: do customer base characteristics matter?," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 659-680, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joamsc:v:47:y:2019:i:4:d:10.1007_s11747-019-00650-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s11747-019-00650-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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