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Paper info: The challenges of adopting digital sales and purchasing tools in business-to-business markets

Title


The challenges of adopting digital sales and purchasing tools in business-to-business markets

Authors


Tommi Mahlamäki, Sabrina C. Thornton and Lauri Saarivuori Tampere

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.

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Abstract


Sales force automation (SFA) has been a relevant topic in business-to-business marketing for some time. However, research has focused mostly on sales force automation, while largely dismissing specific sales tools that aim at reducing administrative burden, thereby increasing capacity of salespeople to manage business relationships. Although interactions between organisations have long been the centre of the IMP research tradition, little has been researched about how technology, such as SFA, plays a role in business relationship management. This paper attempts to open the dialogue by examining how different barriers to SFA implementation could possibly hinder the efficiency of interactions, more specifically the exchange of information. It addresses the research gap by focusing on digital sales configurators, and more specifically on the barriers that affect their adoption and use. Based on the results from 25 in-depth interviews and 152 online questionnaire responses, this study shows that the most important challenges regarding the adoption of digital sales configurators relate to implementation, compatibility and standardisation issues. The challenges related to the sales configurator tool itself were considered less important, as were the company-level and networking challenges. In light of the study, companies should pay attention to the implementation and connectivity issues to maximise the benefits of using digital sales configurators.