Research is clearly one of my passions (remember, I’m still aiming for tenure) and I want to get back to one of research streams from a few years back.
Early on in my Ph.D. program, I worked on an interesting sales force study with my professor at the time Greg Marshall, as well as, co-authors Felicia Lassk and William Moncrief examining a sales person’s propensity to leave the firm. Previous papers found that high performing sales people had a higher propensity to leave the firm. After all, these sales people were at the top of their game and perhaps it was time move on to a higher paid gig or more prestigious company. Makes sense right?
What made our paper unique was we examined different time periods (e.g., propensity to leave the firm at 3 months vs. 6 months vs. 1 year vs. 2 years), as well as, male vs. female sales people. The data examined in the paper was robust including 1042 industrial salespeople representing 61 different companies and 15 of the 20 standard industrial classification (SIC) manufacturing categories.
We found that low performing salesmen and saleswomen behaved the same; both had an equally high propensity to leave the firm because they knew they had to due to their low performance.
By contrast, high performing sales women had a significantly lower propensity to leave the firm across the time intervals described above compared to their male counterparts. For high performing men, their propensity to leave the firm increased from 3 months to 6 months and then again to 1 year. These salesmen probably had some rough time estimate to how long it would take to land a new gig plus I’m sure they wanted hang around in the short term to collect some commissions coming to them. Beyond that, their eyes were on moving on and moving out. For the salesmen, job satisfaction with pay was most significant for the high performers. For the saleswomen, job satisfaction with co-workers was the most significant for high performers.
As with all academic research, these findings need to be replicated to strengthen its claims. In addition, I would like to strengthen the job performance measure. The original study featured self-report job performance and I would like to add managerial job performance measures as well. Finally, the original study featured a 75/25 male to female ratio and I would like to have more of a balance in the sample.
I’m currently looking for companies with a large in-house sales force to explore these findings. If you know of a firm I can talk to, drop me an email and I’ll take it from there.
Associate Professor of Marketing
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University