Stages of the international industrial sales process


Marketing and Professional Sales

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of how the “seven steps of selling” are used within the modern international business environment and the degree to which international sales executives are able to identify and adapt to differences in global markets. Design/methodology/approach: A phenomenological type of approach was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with international sales executives (based either in the USA or UK) that operated across multiple different regions of the world. Findings: This study provides a holistic assessment of the international business-to-business sales process. This study outlines four key aspects of the sales process that differ from traditional domestic industrial selling. Then, the study suggests examining the international sales process as a stage-based approach, versus exclusively focusing on the sales process as a seven-step process. Third, the study focuses on differences between regions of the world. Research limitations/implications: From an academic standpoint, this study highlights a number of avenues to pursue. In addition, this study underscores the limited volume of research focused on international sales force management, especially the differences within the sales process. Limitations focus on issues pertaining to the sales executives examined within the study. Practical implications: Firms looking to enter or expand their international market presence will be able to use the results of this study focusing on the international sales process. Firms can apply the results of this study to build both initial and continuous training programs. Originality/value: This study identifies aspects that occur during each stage of the international sales process to provide a detailed account of the activities that international salespeople are engaged in. Further, this study suggests that the stages of the sales process differ between transactional exchanges and strategic relationships. However, this study offers more insight on the development of strategic long-term relationships, as the majority of the sales executives focused on the strategic relationship development during the interviews. As a last step within this study, seven country-specific issues are described.

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Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing

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