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Paper info: RESTRICTIONS OF THE LOYALTY OF BUSINESS CUSTOMERS - CUSTOMER AND SALES REPRESENTATIVES PERSPECTIVES

Title


RESTRICTIONS OF THE LOYALTY OF BUSINESS CUSTOMERS - CUSTOMER AND SALES REPRESENTATIVES PERSPECTIVES

Authors


Maciej Mitręga
University of Economics in Katowice
Poland
Maciej Mitręga

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.

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Abstract


This paper focuses on selected aspects of creating relationships with business customers from the perspective of field research conducted in Poland. Research project was realized in accordance with the methodology of interactive research (Gummesson 2001), consulting every stage with managers of 10 involved firms (suppliers on B2B market). There were 2 qualitative methods of gathering information applied: semi-structured personal interviews (conducted with 189 key customers of firms involved in the project) and focus group with sales representatives.This paper is focused on this part of the research results which refer to:- barriers of changing supplier perceived by business customers (switching barriers),- attitudes of business customers towards exclusive cooperation with one supplier,- barriers of creating strong customer relationships perceived by sales representatives,- threats connected with getting closer to the customer perceived by sales representatives.Realized qualitative study draws attention to some limitations with regard to implementation of relational marketing strategies. Most important conclusions derived at the end of the paper are as follows:.-         the strategy oriented at constraint-based customer relationships may be very successful if it is applied in strongly concentrated sectors and in conditions of switching barriers (based on requirements of "the third party" and transaction costs),-         the marriage analogy (and especially the monogamy) should not be referred to B2B relationships. The task for marketing managers is to build the position of major (but not exclusive) supplier among chosen business customers,-         the relationship approach should be implemented selectively because there is high probability that some customers will become more demanding (potentially less valuable) when the cooperation is more mature,-         one of the greatest challenges for relationship marketing implementation - popularization of marketing culture through whole organizational structure remains still unsolved. It seems that for front-line and back-office employees it is very difficult to understand each other and to work compatibly to achieve market objectives. To break organizational barriers of relationship marketing implementation, marketing and sales specialists should create effective manners of communication.