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Paper info: Misalignment in Business Relationships: Meanings and Consequences


Misalignment in Business Relationships: Meanings and Consequences


Daniela Corsaro and
Grzegorz Leszczynski
The Poznan University of Economics
Grzegorz Leszczynski

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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In sales management literature different orientations of sales managers have been explored: hard selling, up-selling, consultative selling, relationship selling, customer-oriented selling, adaptive selling, among others. All of them share the idea that salesmen should act in order to satisfactorily meet and match the customer expectations and desires. However an in depth understanding of how sales managers interpret and frame this ―matching‖ with customers‘ needs/requirements is still missing. For such a reason, in this paper we will integrate the concepts of alignment and misalignment in sales management literature, in order to investigate if and how sales managers‘ interpretations of alignment and misalignment toward customers affect their orientation.
This integration seems to be relevant, for a series of reasons. The first is that there is a growing body of literature in business to business marketing which asserts that managers‘ interpretations are relevant and strongly interlinked with their behaviors. Second, recent research is affirming that alignment and misalignment states may have an impact on the relationship development. Third, some scholars, even if indirectly, have started to implement the concept of alignment in the context of business relationships. In this paper we want to move the attention from how sales managers behave (their orientation), to how they think and interpret their relationships with customers.
In this study we will adopt a multi-methods multi-stages approach. First of all we analyzed written narratives by 60 sales managers operating in Poland in order to investigate the meaning of alignment and misalignment, their objects (content), the effects as in the sales managers‘ perspectives and their dynamicity. This exploratory phase has addressed a second one, during which we interviewed 30 sales managers operating in Poland and in Italy, 15 for each Country.
Our findings show that alignment and misalignment are multidimensional concepts, their effects are interpreted differently according to the different situations and that how managers frame them impact their orientation toward customers. In particular important differences emerge by comparing Polish and Italian sales managers‘ views. The study also confirm that misalignment can be positive for the relationship development.
Keywords: alignment, misalignment, sales orientation, customer, supplier.