Fixing Bad Marriages – When Should Firms Reassign Sales Reps?

56 Pages Posted: 13 May 2023

See all articles by Wreetabrata Kar

Wreetabrata Kar

Purdue University

James C. Reeder, III

University of Kansas - School of Business

Gary L. Lilien

Pennsylvania State University - Institute for the Study of Business Markets

Date Written: May 11, 2023

Abstract

Most B2B buyer-seller relationships involve a connection between a sales rep and a customer. If the relationship is suboptimal, the selling firm can move customers from one sales rep to another, a process we call proactive reassignment. Historically, geographic considerations severely constrained feasible reassignments. Technological advancements have made virtual connections between a customer and a rep the norm, removing geographic constraints on proactive reassignment. Using data from a quasi-field experiment in a partner seller firm and machine learning methodology, we develop a decision support system (DSS) to guide sales managers in revenue-enhancing customer-rep reassignments. We find that reassigning a customer to a long-standing rep does not significantly affect post-period sales, but reassigning to a new rep typically leads to a decline in sales. Significantly, our methodology identifies situations when proactive replacement, even with new reps, can be beneficial. For instance, customers with past relationship disruptions perform better when reassigned to new reps than to other, existing reps. Integrating these findings into the DSS, we identify numerous situations where future proactive reassignments can increase the focal firm’s revenue. Our counterfactual analysis shows a potential 14% improvement in post-period revenue compared to the selling firm's actual actions.

Keywords: Rep Reassignment, Relationship Marketing, Business-to-Business Marketing, Machine Learning, DSS

Suggested Citation

Kar, Wreetabrata and Reeder, III, James C. and Lilien, Gary L., Fixing Bad Marriages – When Should Firms Reassign Sales Reps? (May 11, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4445694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4445694

Wreetabrata Kar (Contact Author)

Purdue University ( email )

James C. Reeder, III

University of Kansas - School of Business ( email )

1300 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045
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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