Within-Seller and Buyer–Seller Network Structures and Key Account Profitability

Posted: 17 Mar 2017

See all articles by Aditya Gupta

Aditya Gupta

Iowa State University

Alok Kumar

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Business Administration

Rajdeep Grewal

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Gary L. Lilien

Pennsylvania State University - Institute for the Study of Business Markets

Date Written: March 15, 2017

Abstract

In business-to-business (B2B) markets, the success of key account management (KAM) teams depends heavily on how they are structured and how they handle the relationship with customer accounts. The authors conceptualize the relationships among selling team members as a within seller (intrafirm) network, and the relationships between selling team members and buyer representatives as a buyer-seller (interfirm) network. Drawing on the motivation–ability framework, the authors examines how the interplay between these two networks drives seller account profitability. The authors argue that buyer–seller tie density and within-seller tie density can be conceptualized as motivation, whereas buyer-seller similar-function ties, within seller cross-function ties, and within seller centralization can be conceptualized as ability in this context. Using field data from 207 key account managers from a variety of B2B industries, in a regression model that corrects for unobserved heterogeneity and endogeneity, the authors find a negative interactive effect of motivation factors and a positive interactive effect of ability factors on seller account profitability. These findings suggest that motivation factors serve as substitutes, whereas ability factors serve as complements, across the two KAM networks. The findings also suggest that aligning the motivation and ability aspects of buyer–seller and within-seller firm KAM networks can improve account profitability by up to 4%.

Keywords: Buyer–seller relationship, Buying center, Key account management, Selling team, Social networks, Selling team structure

JEL Classification: L14, M31

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Aditya and Kumar, Alok and Grewal, Rajdeep and Lilien, Gary L., Within-Seller and Buyer–Seller Network Structures and Key Account Profitability (March 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2933839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2933839

Aditya Gupta

Iowa State University ( email )

613 Wallace Road
Ames, IA 50011-2063
United States

Alok Kumar

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Business Administration ( email )

1240 R Street
P.O. Box 880405
Lincoln, NE 68588-0405
United States

Rajdeep Grewal (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States

Gary L. Lilien

Pennsylvania State University - Institute for the Study of Business Markets ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States
814-863-2782 (Phone)
814-863-0413 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.smeal.psu.edu/isbm/about/people/LILIEN.

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