SOCO SCALE

March 25, 2018 | Author: Radhika Kumar | Category: Validity (Statistics), Sales, Marketing, Correlation And Dependence, Science


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ROBERT SAXE and BARTON A.WEITZ* The concept of customer orientation in salespeople is defined, a scale is developed to measure the degree to which salespeople engage in customer-oriented selling, and the properties of the scale are reported. A test of the nomological validity indicates the use of customer-oriented selling is related to the ability of the salespeople to help their customers and the quality of the customer-salesperson relationship. The SOCO Scale: A Measure of the Customer Orientation of Salespeople More than 50 years ago, Strong (1925) emphasized that personal selling strategies should be directed toward securing customer satisfaction as well as purchase orders. Despite numerous references to the benefits of customer-oriented sales behaviors since that time, little empirical research has examined the effectiveness of customer-oriented selling and the factors influencing the extent to which salespeople engage in it. The objective of our study is to facilitate such research by developing a measure of the degree to which a salesperson engages in customer-oriented selling. With a measure of customer-oriented selling, the relationship between this selling behavior and sales effectiveness can be investigated. Is customer-oriented selling universally effective, or does its effectiveness depend on the nature of the sales situation? In addition, researchers can explore the effects of company policies on the customer orientation of salespeople. Are salaried salespeople more customer oriented than commissioned salespeople? Do direct salespeople use customer-oriented selling more than manufacturers' agents? We first describe customer-oriented sales behaviors, then develop a measure of customer orientation. After describing the procedure used to develop the measure and the properties of the measure, we examine the relationships among customer-oriented selling, characteristics of the sales situation, and salesperson performance. •Robert Saxe is Research Statistician, Doyle Dane Bembach/ West, Inc, Barton A, Weitz is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Pennsylvania, The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Marketing Science Institute and comments by two anonymous JMR reviewers. 343 DEFINITION OF CUSTOMER-ORIENTED SELLING Customer-oriented selling can be viewed as the practice of the marketing concept at the level of the individual salesperson and customer. The marketing concept, a cornerstone of marketing thought for the last 30 years, calls for an integrated, companywide approach in which all of the firm's activities are directed toward providing customer satisfaction and establishing mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with its market (Kotler 1980). Kurtz, Dodge, and Klompmaker (1976) have explicitly related the marketing concept to the behavior of salespeople. In the marketing concept, all parts of an organization are oriented toward solving customer problems and meeting the needs of the marketplace. Sales personnel no longer specialize solely in increasing sales volume; rather, the prospect's real needs become the basis of the marketing plan, , . . Companywide acceptance of a consumer orientation requires the sales force to become thoroughly professional in its dealings with prospects and customers. A mark of professionalism in sales is that sellers adopt a problem-solving approach to their work, A professional salesperson does not wonder, "What can I sell this individual?" but instead asks, "How can I best solve this person's problems?" (p, 13, 14). Though adoption of the marketing concept is far from universal (Kotler 1980; McNamara 1972), Rieser (1962) has reported a trend in industrial selling toward a problem-solution approach and away from approaches based on camaraderie and/or pressure. The marketing concept requires an organization to determine the needs of a target market and adapt itself to satisfying those needs better than its competitors. The organization seeks to generate customer satisfaction as Journal of Marketing Research Voi, XIX (August 1982), 343-51 These items represented each of the seven categories listed and included both positively and negatively stated items to control for the possibility of acquiescence bias (Cronbach 1946). Several writers have suggested interpersonal behavior models incorporating two dimensions—concern for self and concern for others (Blake and Mouton 1970. Some sales managers also argued that a highly customer-oriented salesperson would often use high pressure and manipulation to persuade a reluctant customer to purchase a product the salesperson knew would be a beneficial purchase for the customer. In many of these interviews. However. A CUSTOMER-ORIENTATION SCALE JOURNAL OF AAARKETING RESEARCH.' Sev'To monitor the degree to which the judges attended to the rating task. and the 25 interviews. 2. Describing products accurately. largely follows the guidelines recommended by Nunnally (1978) and Churchill (1979). Buzzotta. in contrast. 5. this position was not supported by the data. In addition. A desire to help customers make satisfactory purchase decisions. Thomas 1976). whereas low customer orientation is most closely associated with low concern for others/high concern for self. they avoid behaviors which might result in customer dissatisfaction. we generated a pool of 104 items. This viewpoint was later supported by the data in the first survey of salespeople. Lefton. each judge was asked to classify the 104 items into the following three categories: (1) "clearly representative. Highly customer-oriented salespeople engage in behaviors aimed at increasing long-term customer satisfaction.ORIENTED SELLING DEVELOPMENT • OF AN ITEM POOL REVIEW OF LITERATURE INTERVIEWS WrTH SALES MANAGERS ASSESSMENT OF CONTENT BY EXPERT JUDGES VALIDITY OF ITEMS FIRST SURVEY OF SALESPEOPLE TO SELECT BEST ITEMS SECOND SURVEY OF SALESPEOPLE TO ASSESS SCALE PROPERTIES AND TEST CONTINGENCY HYPOTHESES READMINISTRATION OF SCALE TO PART SAMPLE TO ASSESS TEST RELIABILITY OF SECOND Scale Development The procedure used to develop a measure of customeroriented selling. The responses from one judge (a sales manager) were discarded because he did not make the appropriate responses to the irrelevant items. Selling approaches similar to high customer orientation have been proposed in the literature. Survey of expert judges. Initial definition and development of item pool.344 the key to satisfying its goals. The term refers to the degree to which salespeople practice the marketing concept by trying to help their customers make purchase decisions that will satisfy customer needs. 3. Helping customers assess their needs. rather than producing products in response to customer needs. Within the context of these models. In some interviews." (2) "somewhat representative. 1. 10 items totally unrelated to the concept were included. 6. and Sherberg 1972. interpersonal behavior models. an organization seeks to stimulate demand for products it produces. Avoiding deceptive or manipulative influence tactics. High customer orientation is most closely associated with high concern for others/high concern for self. Avoiding the use of high pressure. 4. AUGUST 1982 Figure 1 STEPS IN DEVELOPING A CUSTOMERORIENTATION SCALE DEFINITION OF CUSTOMER . Under the selling concept. The selling concept in a company corresponds to a low level of customer orientation in a salesperson. The literature was surveyed and the concept of customer orientation was investigated further by interviewing 25 salespeople and sales managers. Largely on the basis of the literature review and interviews. customer orientation is related to the "concern for others" dimension." and (3) "not representative" of customer-oriented selling. the fifth characteristic was re- jected on the basis that salespeople with both low and high customer orientation will adapt sales presentations to customer interests. Customer orientation also incorporates low pressure selling (Bursk 1947) and need satisfaction/problem solution selling approaches (Gwinner 1968). Customer-oriented selling is a way of doing business on the part of salespeople. the salespeople and managers were asked to describe attitudes and behaviors that distinguished high and low customer-oriented salespeople. Adapting sales presentations to match customer interests. 7. Offering products that will satisfy those needs. customer-oriented selling was initially characterized as follows. Expert judges (11 sales managers and 13 marketing academics) were then surveyed. Thus highly customer-oriented salespeople avoid actions which sacrifice customer interest to increase the probability of making an immediate sale. illustrated in Figure 1. After the concept of customer-oriented selling was described. Using the literature on the marketing concept. . 3 2 .1 4 . the respondents also completed the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne and Marlowe 1964).35. . you would indicate that you ask somewhat more than half of your customers a lot of questions.THE SOCO SCALE 345 enty items consistently classified as "clearly representative" items were retained in the item pool. using a seven-point scale anchored by "always" and "never.^ First survey of salespeople. as suggested by Nunnally (1978. Corrected item-total correlations were computed for each item. The negatively stated items were reverse-scored and a total score was computed for each respondent. For each statement please indicate the proportion of your customers with whom you act as described in the statement. All 24 items had corrected item-total correlations equal to or greater than . I try to get customers to discuss their needs with me.1 4 . . . 8—True for ALMOST ALL .44 .46 . .39 .16 . and retail salesclerks. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Item number Corrected Judges' rating Stem—positively stated items I try to help customers achieve their goals. the word "customer" is used to refer to both customers and prospects). Each item was correlated with the social desirability score. The fact that all correlations are small and insignificant indicates that the items are not contaminated by a social desirability factor. The sample was chosen so that a wide variety of selling jobs would be represented. The largest group. The use of equal numbers of both types of items is recommended by Nunnally to control for acquiescence bias. . . . . These salespeople were asked to indicate the proportion of their customers with whom they acted in the tnanner described in an item. . I try to find out what kind of product would be most helpful to a customer I answer a customer's questions about products as correctly as I can. . the cutoff suggested by McKelvey (1976). NEVER ALWAYS I ask customers a lot of questions.38 . Do this by circling one of the numbers from 1 to 9.36 . 298). I try to figure out what a customer's needs are.40 . wholesale food sales. I try to influence a customer by information rather than by pressure. .1 2 . I offer the product of mine that is best suited to the customer's problem.5 3 91 74 91 74 11 83 91 82 96 — 96 83 57 52 53 54 41 47 37 46 41 42 43 37 . I am willing to disagree with a customer in order to help him make a better decision.20 . .36 . The 12 positively stated and the 12 negatively stated items with the highest corrected itemtotal correlations were chosen for the scale. To check for the possibility of social desirability bias. I try to achieve my goals by satisfying customers. .48 . I try to give customers an accurate expectation of what the product will do for them.27 . 3—True for A FEW . Two hundred and eight were returned for a response rate of 44%. 4—True for SOMEWHAT LESS THAN HALF . 6—True for SOMEWHAT MORE THAN HALF .46 . I try to bring a customer with a problem together with a product that helps him solve that problem. The meanings of the numbers are: 1—True for NONE of your customers—^NEVER 2—True for ALMOST NONE .49 .38 ." Four hundred seventy questionnaires were distributed to salespeople in 48 firms. Item selection. The jobs represented by more than 10 respondents were retail vehicle sales.00 . industrial packaging sales. The items forming the scale are listed in Table Table 1 SOCO (SELLING ORIENTATION-CUSTOMER ORIENTATION) SCALE INSTRUCTIONS: The statements below describe various ways a salesperson might act with customer or prospect (for convenience. Seventeen of the respondents were 'All retained items were rated "clearly representative" by at least 50% of the judges. 5—True for ABOUT HALF . with 24 respondents.3 3 . 7—True for a LARGE MAJORITY . . dropped because they failed to answer three or more items.29 . Loading on Factor 1 Factor 2 8 21 13 2 5 16 23 9 14 15 1 12 .47 . p.40 . Any upward biasing is apparently unrelated to individual differences in need for approval. A good salesperson has to have the customer's best interest in mind. if you circled 6 below. 9—True for ALL of your customers—ALWAYS For example. retail clothing sales. Some items were reworded on the basis of comments made by the judges. was retail motor vehicle salespeople. The 70 items were sent to a convenience sample of salespeople. 727-32.44 68 not.57 Judges' rating Loading on Factor 1 Factor 2 Stem—negatively stated items -. Welsh 1956). handled the continuing sales relationship and made follow-on sales. -. -. •"The "judges' rating" refers to the percentage of judges (from the survey of 23 experts) who rated an item as "clearly representative" of the concept of customer orientation rather than "somewhat representative" or "not representative. accounting for 53% of the variance. the MACH IV scale (Christie and Geis 1970).45 trying to discover his needs.02 41 11 . -. Properties of the SOCO Scale Reliability. Factor structure. and two salesforces from a company selling computer services to a variety of business and government organizations.37 51 82 I decide what products to offer on the basis of what I can convince 22 . -. -. All items had a moderate positive correlation with this factor." *rhis second factor may be a "difficulty factor" (Digman 1966.44 60 I keep alert for weaknesses in a customer's personality so I can use 24 .12 36 18 .38 61 I try to sell as much as I can rather than to satisfy a customer. Guilford 1941). The breaks-in-eigenvalues criterion indicated a two-factor structure. One of these computer service salesforces.1 5 pressure to get him to buy. Test-retest reliability was measured to assess the stability of the scale over time. one-tailed) indicated a moderate degree of stability. The second factor.' The scale is called SOCO. and have no rating indicated. to make them sound as 54 20 . separated the positively stated items from the negatively stated items.3 4 I treat a customer as rival. that can .43 I begin the sales talk for a product before exploring a customer's — needs with him. referred to as maintenance reps. was a general factor representing customer orientation.50 customers to buy.001.42 51 I paint too rosy a picture of my products. 'The order in which the items are presented in the instrument is indicated by the item number. not on the basis of what will satisfy them in the long run. After a six-week interval. I will still apply 83 3 . and the other. demographic information.83. Coefficient alpha (Cronbach 1951) for the SOCO scale for the first sample of salespeople was .346 JOURNAL OF AAARKETING RESEARCH.67 {p < . Surveys were distributed to 133 salespeople and 95 usable responses were returned for a response rate of 71%. Such factors are commonly found in factor analyses of scales consisting of both positive and negative items (e. Robinson and Shaver 1973. -. even if I think it is more than a wise customer would buy.5 4 customer. 361-87. -.02 46 I imply to a customer that something is beyond my control when it is 4 . Each subject completed a questionnaire containing the SOCO scale. for Selling Orientation-Customer Orientation. One factor. 46 salespeople in the second sample were retested and a correlation of .g. indicating that the scale has a high level of internal consistency.06 49 It is necessary to stretch the truth in describing a product to a 74 17 . Four salesforces participated in a second survey: a company selling electronic components to manufacturers and distributors. 271 of 276 correlations between items were in the expected direction and most were significant.52 64 them to put pressure on him to buy.56 96 -. -. and 18 questions intended to measure situational variables used to examine the nomological validity of the scale. p. an important indication of reliability (Peter 1979). AUGUST 1982 Table 1 (continued) Item number 19 Corrected r" .20 50 I spend more time trying to persuade a customer to buy than I do 83 7 . was performed on the responses from the first sample. 10 . made the initial sale of the service.60 I try to sell a customer all I can convince him to buy. The correction removes the effects of the item in question from the total score. The 12 positively stated items are given first in descending order of item-total correlations..45 52 -.86. accounting for 20% of the variance. .21 . 6 . This term is derived from achievement and aptitude testing in which exceptionally difficult items. referred to as new business reps. Second survey of salespeople. followed by the 12 negatively stated items. Christie and Geis 1970. •"Corrected r" refers to the corrected item-to-total Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. A principal axes factor analysis. a dealer selling motor vehicles to the public. An administration of the 24-item SOCO scale to the second sample resulted in an alpha of . Gorsuch 1974. with squared multiple correlations in the diagonal." Three items were not rated by the judges.46 good as possible. 83 1.20 52 I pretend to agree with customers to please them.51 52 If I am not sure a product is right for a customer. p. among other things. the version used with the second sample and in the final instrument incorporated a nine-point rather than a seven-point scale.94 . because the skewness of the second set of responses was —0. The SOCO scale correlated (r = .11 -2S7 -2.72.66 1. seems to be that a highly customer-oriented salesperson will not sacrifice the customer's best interests to make a sale. The skewness of the first scores for the first sample was —1.5 5.0 4. SOCO scores for groups of salespeople are reported in Table 2.5 6. The responses to the individual items (after reflection of the negative items) indicated a high level of customer orientation.4 0 Score at Mid-point . Convergent and discriminant validity. Industrial salespeople with much repeat business scored higher than retail salespeople with less repeat business.THE SOCO SCALE Figure 2 DISTRIBUTION OF SOCO SCORES. in this case. p < . was not represented on the scale. FIRST SAMPLE 50 44 34 27 347 16 2 2 Mean Item Score 4. Machiavellianism measures.0 5. The original conception of the components of customer orientation was largely supported by the data. because the severest test of customer orientation is faced when salespeople must make a choice between their cusbe answered correctly by only a few subjects.. p < . 79% of the judges called an item "clearly representative" of the concept of customer orientation. Additional evidence of construct validity is provided by examining the relationship between the SOCO Table 2 SOCO SCORES FOR TYPES OF SALESPEOPLE Sales position Electronic components to distributors Maintenance reps for time sharing computer service New business reps for time sharing computer service Packaging to industrial customers Automobiles to consumers (not takeover sales) Retail salesclerks for gifts Automobiles to consumers (mostly takeover sales) Number Mean Standard tested score deviation 20 18 33 15 26 10 187 187 187 187 183 174 15 15 17 21 19 19 24 159 32 .03 -1i49 -. p < . The use of a broad and representative range of items and a standard method of item selection provides a scale with adequate content validity. 7 3 .22 Distributional properties. psychological difficulty in agreement with an item indicating a lack of customer orientation.5 8. The mean score for the second sample was 186 and the standard deviation was 18. Salesclerks scored significantly lower than either a group of computer time salespeople or a group of electronics components salespeople. On average.56.0 a5 7. tomers' satisfaction and their own short-term self-interest in closing each sale. However. only one. The convergent. The lack of correlations with the MarlowCrowne Social Desirability Scale (r = . Of the seven categories of items. and known group validity discussed in this section are all forms of construct validity. This finding is not surprising.001) and skewness (r = .5 9. a willingness to engage in manipulative behaviors. The distribution of SOCO scores from the first sample of salespeople is shown in Figure 2.001) with the personality trait of Machiavellianism. with most scores concentrated on the high end of distribution. Content validity. These scores reflect the expected pattern of results.001) with a measure of longterm versus short-term time orientation developed in this study (Saxe 1979). which would also lead to lower skewness.001). Convergent and discriminant validity were examined using data collected in the second sample of salespeople. rather it is sought through the use of a representative collection of items and a sensible method of test construction (Nunnally 1978). /? < .47. have extreme means and skewed distributions. discriminant. The second factor loadings correlate highly with item means (r = . The key concept.0 Standard -3.0 8. Known group validity.00) shows evidence of discriminant validity. Content validity is not assessed by statistical means.33. Loadings on difficulty factors are indicative of item "difficulty" in terms of aptitude or. The scores on SOCO are skewed. To reduce the skewness of scale. This change may have succeeded in reducing the skewness.88. the mean score was 183 and the standard deviation was 24. matching sales presentations to customer interests.14 .0 7.65-3. SOCO scores correlated negatively (r = -. Item content. the second sample also contained fewer low customer-oriented sales groups. The items were rated very highly by expert judges (Table 1). assessed by the MACH IV scale (Christie and Geis 1970). exemplified by the items with the highest corrected item-total correlations. When converted to the ninepoint scale used in the final instrument. A group of auto salespeople from a dealer using a "takeover" system (in which a customer is turned over to a "closer") also had significantly lower scores than auto salespeople associated with an agency that does not use a "takeover" system. There is a negative relationship between customer orientation and salespeople's perception of a conflict of interest with their customers. The salesperson typically has a cooperative relationship with his or her customers. trusting relationship with salespeople. Additional items with loadings over . the nomological validity of the SOCO scale is demonstrated.40) on the first factor assess the importance of repeat business to the salesperson (16. the relationships among the use of customer-oriented selling. Characteristics of the Sales Situation and CustomerOriented Selling Though salespeople can realize long-term benefit by using customer-oriented selling. based on the breaks in eigenvalues. The varimax rotated loadings of the items are shown in Table 3. In addition. we report empirical results. The salesperson can offer a range of alternatives and has the expertise to determine which alternatives will satisfy customer needs. Finally. and trust salespeople. referred to as RELATIONS. the likelihood of follow-on orders from satisfied customers (5). and the amount of pressure expected (13).40 measure the quality of the customer-salesperson relationship in terms of cooperation (2). The first factor. AND SALESPERSON PERFORMANCE In this section. lack of conflict (9). and the emphasis on producing long-term versus immediate results (8). ABILITY TO HELP. In such a situation. One would expect that a customer-oriented approach would be used when the benefits outweigh the costs. customers are most receptive to a customer-oriented approach when they need assistance to solve a new/complex problem and when they have a close. CUSTOMER-ORIENTED SELLING. indicates the degree to which the customer-salesperson relationship is long-term and cooperative. in some situations the impact of an immediate sale outweighs the potential impact of future sales. characteristics of the sales situation. will justify the costs when the salesperson can expect to contact the customer in the future. Such situations are conducive to a free flow of information. the degree to which the salesperson's prod- Customer-oriented selling is cost effective when salespeople have the resources needed to tailor their offerings to customer needs. salespeople practicing a customeroriented approach must spend time collecting information about customer needs and demonstrating how their products satisfy those needs. 18). the satisfied customer can reward the salesperson by continuing to place orders. In addition. In these conditions. 3. customer-oriented selling is likely to increase satisfaction. trust (3). 2. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SALES SITUATION. Clearly. multi-item measures of sales situations. The customer orientation of salespeople is related positively to the extent to which customers use the salespeople as an information source. The correlations between the SOCO scores of tiie salespeople and these questions reflecting their perception of their typical sales situation are shown in Table 3. indicates the ability of salespeople to help their customers satisfy their needs. and salesperson performance are investigated. in the next sections. they also incur costs when using this selling approach.348 JOURNAL OF AAARKETING RESEARCH. 17. Salespeople are able to determine customer needs and feel that their suggestions will be considered. which is then likely to increase salesperson performance. The correlations support most of the relationships anticipated between customer-oriented selling and characteristics of sales situation described in the preceding section. Items loading on this factor measure the degree to which salespeople see themselves as able to help customers (6). AUGUST 1982 measure and other variables conceptually related to the use of customer-oriented selling. 4. After developing hypotheses about the effectiveness of customer-oriented selling. Examples of such resources are the ability of salespeople to analyze customer problems and the availability of a broad range of products that can be offered as solutions. Repeat sales and referrals are an important source of business for the salesperson. Though the SOCO scale is related to the degree to which salespeople sell to customers who purchase frequently. and the support of their company have higher SOCO scores. A principal components analysis revealed two factors. Salespeople with a product line matching customer needs. 1. An opportunity cost arises when short-term sales are sacrificed to maintain customer satisfaction and increase the probability of future sales. The components accounted for 31% of the variance in the data. Such conditions are likely in the following circumstances. Salespeople can use information collected during subsequent interactions and thus reduce their sales "cost" per sale. The second factor. Relationship Between SOCO and Characteristics of Sales Situation The typical sales situations encountered by the salespeople in the second sample were assessed by means of 18 questions. To develop more reliable. it is not related to whether satisfied customers will buy again or the level of repeat sales. The time spent engaging in these activities might be spent more productively on attempting to persuade the customer or in calling on other customers. Items with high loadings (greater than . the time to investigate and satisfy customer needs. the benefits of a customer-oriented approach . the 18 items characterizing sales situation were factor analyzed. The salesperson's customers are typically engaged in complex buying tasks. cooperate with salespeople in identifying needs. at the .08 .18" .18 -. both factors were significant.53 .63 -.00 . About how many times per year do you see him on business matters? Eigenvalue—unrotated .27' -." 10. 3. 'p < ." "Salesperson responded to question by filling in a number. ucts match customer needs (7).06 .24 .03 -.2 2.05 -. The salesperson's perceptions of both his or her relationship with customers (assessed by the RELATIONS factor score) and ability to help customers (assessed by the ABILITY TO HELP factor score) are significantly related to the practice of customer-oriented selling (assessed by the SOCO score).15 .05.20 .21' .47 -.22 . A? = 97. "p < .07 . Presumably a good relationship with customers is needed to find their needs and help them. Only the large negative loading of percentage of repeat business (16) departs from the identification of the second factor as measuring the salesperson's perception of his or her ability to help customers. Most customers could probably select a satisfactory product for their needs even without a salesperson's help. Customers expect pressure from salespeople in this business.09 .53 -.18 -.01. The multiple correlation of the model was .' To what extent do your customers rely on you as a source of product information? To what extent do most customers cooperate with your efforts to find what they need in a product? To what extent do most customers trust you? To what extent could a typical customer help or hurt your job performance by word of mouth about you to other customers or prospects? To what extent is it likely that a satisfied customer will buy from you again? To what extent can a salesperson in your business contribute to helping a customer make a purchase that will satisfy him? To what extent does your product line match the range of customer needs and problems you encounter? To what extent are you under pressure to produce immediate rather than long-term results? To what extent do the interests of the customer and salesperson conflict in this business? To what extent are you hampered in learning customer needs and in explaining products to customers by not having sufficient time together with customers? Customers decide whether or not to buy from me mainly on the basis of price.18 -.68 .17" .'' 15.28 3.01 and ." 8.30 -.60 .58 .05 levels.'' 16.39 -.18" . In a multiple regression of SOCO on RELATIONS and ABILITY TO HELP.53 -.38 . who see themselves as able to help customers substantially and have much less repeat business than the other two groups. This discrepancy is probably an artifact caused by new business reps and vehicle salespeople.' 7."" 13.00 -.° 18.33 . Purchase of my products really isn't a decision to which my customers give much thought.'' 14.51 .' 5.28' .49 .17" -.' 4.10.° 17.08 -.23' ." 11.54 -.32 .THE SOCO SCALE 349 Table 3 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCO SCORES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SALES SITUATION Loadings Item Correlation with SOCO Factor I RELATIONS Factor 2 ABILITY TO HELP 1 .12 -.55 -. and the support received by the salespeople from their companies (14). I can count on company support in reasonable efforts to look out for my customers' interests. N = 97. respectively.07 .10 -. in this business.25' .36. 'p < . 9) load on both factors. Think of a typical repeat customer.'' 12.00 -.43 -. .4 lales situation on a seven-point scale anchored by "minimum Salesperson indicated agreement with the item on seven-point scale anchored by "strongly disagree" and "strongly agree.* 2.05 -.14 -.24' -.00 . and several customer-salesperson relationship items (2. Approximately what percentage of your total sales volume comes from repeat customers? About how often do most repeat customers make purchases from you? Once every weeks.56 -.66 -. the willingness of customers to spend sufficient time with salesperson (10). N = 97." 6.' 9. the importance of nonprice factors in the customer's purchase decision (11)." 3. The only unanticipated finding is that the lowest (most negative) correlation between customer orientation and performance is in the low ABILITY TO HELP/high RELATIONS group rather than in the group low on both characteristics. total earnings and number of vehicles sold in the preceding 11 months were used. as expected. Thus a portion of the variance in sales performance due to differences in mean performance levels across salesforces may not be accounted for by the independent variable—the SOCO measure.40* (23)" -. The shapes of the distributions of performance scores were roughly the same in all four salesforces. p < . For the electronic components salesforce. This is the highest positive correlation. dollar volume of orders and percentage of quota achieved in the preceding 11 months were used. support this hypothesis. however.40 for the 23 salespeople whose factor scores were above the median on RELATIONS and ABILITY TO HELP. "Interpretation: the correlation between SOCO and the standardized measure of sales performance was .19(22) -.26" (46) •p < . The correlations in the three other groups are insignificant or negative.05.09 (47) RELATIONS factor score Below median . p < . The correlation between customer orientation and performance is positive and significant for salespeople in the high ABILITY TO HELP/high RELATIONS group (r = . produces a conservative test of the hypothesis because it suggests that the mean salesperson performance in each salesforce was the same. reported in Table 4.01. Thus the hypothesis could be tested even though subjects were analyzed as a single group and not as separate salesforces. The proportion of variance accounted for ranged from 74% and 99% in the four groups. For the two computer services salesforces. but the closely related concept of performance in relation to the rest of the firm's own salesforce. four groups were formed by dividing the second sample of salespeople at the median scores on the two factors. one year. In addition. one-tail). the low ABILITY TO HELP/high RELATIONS group (z = 3. Customer-oriented selling may result in high RELATIONS.43" (24) -. one-tail). Then the correlation between the SOCO score and the performance of the salesperson was calculated for each group. and may not capture effects on long-term sales performance due to customer satisfaction realized when customer-oriented selling is used. p < . p < .05. For the motor vehicle salesforce. 16 for the 40 salespeople whose factor score on ABILITY TO HELP was above the median. and the low ABILITY TO HELP/low RELATIONS group (z = 1. Both the SOCO measure of sales behavior and the measures of the nature of the sales situation are based on self-reports obtained from salespeople. it is not absolute performance that is measured when such a procedure is employed. The customer orientation/performance correlation in the high ABILITY TO HELP/high RELATIONS group is significantly greater than the correlations in the high ABILITY TO HELP/low RELATIONS group (z = 1.90. The measure. Because the measures were highly correlated within each salesforce. To examine this hypothesis. The sales managers of the participating companies provided performance data for the respondents. the performance data for each salesforce were reduced to a single standardized score for each salesperson by performing a principal components analysis on the performance measures available for the salesforce and extracting a factor score.10. .05. 'Interpretation: the correlation between SOCO and the standardized measure of sales performance was . one would expect the use of a customer-oriented approach to be most effective when the sales conditions favor such an approach—^when RELATIONS and ABILITY TO HELP are high. one-tail). performance was measured by the total sales volume in the most recent fiscal year and by the national sales manager's ranking of the salespeople in terms of their overall value to the organization.16'(49) -. Table 4 CORRELATION BETWEEN CUSTOMER ORIENTATION (SOCO) A N D SALES PERFORAAANCE FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS OF SALESPEOPLE ABIUTY TO HELP factor score Above median Below median Total sample Above median . one-tail). SOCO and Sales Performance The relationship between SOCO and performance across sales situations provides the strongest evidence of nomological validity.350 JOURNAL OF AAARKETING RESEARCH.40. one-tail. the causality of these relationships is unclear because of the correlational design. From the preceding discussion. so the use of standardized factor scores allowed the performance scores to be pooled in subsequent analyses. In addition. this measure only examines sales performance over a relatively short period. rather than high RELATIONS stimulating customer-oriented selling.06(48) Total sample .10. The results of this analysis. However.30.02 (26) -. AUGUST 1982 This relationship between SOCO and the two situational factors may be biased because of common method variance. Kurtz. (1962). 213-30. Mouton (1970). (1947). C." Journal of Marketing. Jr. C. P. Factor Analysis." Journal of Marketing Research. E. R. and the ratings of sales managers. "Reliability: A Review of Psychometric Basics and Recent Marketing Practices. Jr. norms need to be established for the scale across a wide range of salespeople engaged in different sales situations. UCLA Graduate School of Management. (1946). Churchill. R. (1925). revised ed. R. Planning and Control. (1979). Measures of Social Psychological Attitudes. A study of the relationship of customer orientation and customer satisfaction should be useful in this regard. Rieser. 297-334. the relationship of customer orientation and existing measures of "other" orientation such as inner-outer directedness (Kassarjian 1962) and self-monitoring (Synder 1976) should be examined. J. the highest loading being . Saxe. Buzzotta. McNamara. J. Gorsuch. 6 8 . "Base Theory in the Formulation of Sales Strategies. 50-2. (1979). (1978). 6 (Fall). Crowne. MI: Survey Research Center. (1967). Ann Arbor.60 on a factor. Institute for Social Research. J." Fortune. 475-94. Though the significance of the anticipated relationships between SOCO scores and characteristics of the sales situation demonstrate the nomological validity of the SOCO measure. Strong. Englewood Cliffs. Sherberg (1972). A.. 75-86. New York: John Wiley & Sons. "An Approach for Developing Shorter and Better Measuring Instruments. (1951). April 1980." MSU Business Topics. 37-44. "The Salesman Isn't Dead—He's Different. (1968). (1974). L. H. 16 (November). E. However. R. V. Though measures of sales situations are needed to investigate thoroughly the sales effectiveness of customer-oriented selling. "A Study of Riesman's Theory of Social Character. customers. B. Jr. L. (1979). and J. Dunnette. Guilford. 36 (Fall)." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. and M. A. R. 66 (5). Perreault. S." Psychometrika. McKelvey." Working Paper 76-6. (1981). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press." Journal of Applied Psychology. L. Dahlstrom. 40 (10). Peter. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. (1962). archival data. D. "A Paradigm for Developing Better Measures of Marketing Constructs. H. 67-77. . Digman. 52 (July). (1976). Inc. The results of this study and the Spiro and Perreault (1979) study should be helpful in identifying aspects of the sales situations related to selling approaches. R. P. Psychometric Theory. Effective Selling Through Psychology. Cronbach. eds. W. Welsh. ed. "The Difficulty of a Test and Its Factor Structure. 227-42. NJ: PrenticeHall. Thomas. (1976). UCLA. 124-7." Harvard Business Review. "Effectiveness of Sales Interactions: A Contingency Framework. (1956). R. Problems in measuring sales situations encountered in our study emphasize the need to develop a taxonomy of sales situations with reliable measures validated against observation. M. G. S. Psychometrika. D. "Low-Pressure Selling. and salespeople. B. P." Journal of Marketing Research. Shaver (1973). Reliable measures of sales situations will facilitate the investigation of relationships between the effectiveness of selling approaches (such as customer orientation) and the nature of sales situations (Weitz 1981). doctoral dissertation. L. "The Self-Monitoring of Expressive Behavior. 9 (January).THE SOCO SCALE DISCUSSION A 24-item paper-and-pencil scale (SOCO) was developed to measure customer orientation in salespeople. and P. The two situational factors (quality of salespersoncustomer relations and ability to help) accounted for only 31% of variance in the 18 items measuring situationaJ characteristics. Philadelphia: Saunders. and D. 16 (Autumn). "Response Sets and Test Validity. Dallas: Business Publications Inc. G. Kotler. K. additional research is needed to further validate the scale. and J. R. (1941). Bursk. 2nd ed. M.. R. R. Robinson. D. R. "Coefficient Alpha and the Internal Structure of Tests. REFERENCES Blake. Nunnally. "Theories of Selling. 6-17. 30 (October) 526-37. E. W.." Journal of Marketing. 16 (November). L. Spiro. the results of our study suggest that the SOCO measure can be used to examine the impact of company policy on sales behaviors at this time. Klompmaker (1976). J. (1972). Geis (1970). P. The Grid for Sales Excellence. The Customer Orientation of Salespeople. K. "The Present State of the Marketing Concept. 25 (Winter). (1980). 435-55. "Conflict and Conflict Management. Inc. 16 (October). Graduate School of Management. R. ed. P. Human Systems Development Study Center.0 . Weitz. Kassarjian. G. C. 45 (Winter). Marketing Management: Analysis. P. "Factor Dimensions A and R. (1979). D. J. 6 (February). Chicago: RandMcNally. M. Inc. Cattell." in Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. G. Only four of the items loaded more than 0. (1966). 4th ed.. Welsh and W. Dissertation Abstracts International." Sociometry. Marlowe (1964). Gwinner. S. C. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Christie." Journal of Business. In addition. J. and W. E. The nature of the salesforces and reliability of sales situation measures contributed to reducing the strength of the relationships uncovered. Studies in Machiavellianism. Dodge. 85-103. The reliability and validity of the measure were demonstrated. 64-73. "Influence Use by Industrial Salesmen: Influence Strategy Mixes and Situational Determinants. Finally. the results are not strong. 25 (September). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company." in Basic Readings on the MMPI in Psychology and Medicine. Synder. Lefton. "Interaction and Nonlinearity in Multivariate Experiment. New York: Academic Press. 5570A." 351 Educational and Psychological Measurement. The Approval Motive. Professional Selling. Chicago: Rand-McNally. and F." in Handbook of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. 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