Purpose – This paper aims to develop and empirically test a conceptual framework explaining the influence of the sales force on brand equity relative to the product and promotion elements of the marketing mix, in the context of business‐to‐business marketing. Design/methodology/approach – Six research hypotheses, relating to the effects of four key drivers of B‐to‐B brand equity identified in a review of the relevant literature, were empirically tested with a sample of 201 respondents in B‐to‐B firms in Germany, using partial least squares analysis. Findings – The results confirm the high relevance of the sales force to the building and maintenance of a strong B‐to‐B brand. The most important driver of brand equity in this environment is the salesperson's behaviour, followed in sequence by his or her personality, product quality and non‐personal marketing communications. Research limitations/implications – The sample size permits only a general analysis and conclusions. The choice of PLS analysis and formative scales limits the rigorousness of scale and model evaluation. The decision to interview one manager per company may have introduced informant bias. Practical implications – The study identifies controllable variables that are critical to the effective management of a B‐to‐B brand and offers an alternative approach to the measurement of brand equity in B‐to‐B marketing. Originality/value – This is the first study to test the widely claimed influence of the sales force on B‐to‐B brand equity empirically, developing a simple but powerful framework to integrate sales management and brand management in this context.
Journal of Product & Brand Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 20, 2011
Keywords: Brand equity; B‐to‐B branding; Sales force behaviour and personality; Conceptual framework; Brands; Sales force
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