Digitization of selling activity and sales force performanceAn empirical investigation

Devon Johnson, Montclair State University
Sundar Bharadwaj, Goizueta Business School


Firms are creating a digitized selling capability by developing Web sites designed to provide information and conduct transactions with customers, replacing many routine sales force activities. The authors use the motivation-ability framework to shape a conceptual model that examines the effects of the digitization of selling activity on two salesperson outcomes: salesperson effectiveness and salesperson job insecurity. Using data from salespeople in 168 firms, they assess the moderating effects of environmental-level motivational factors and firm-level ability factors on the impact of digitization of selling activity on salesperson effectiveness and job insecurity. The results reveal that digitization has the paradoxical effect of improving sales-person effectiveness and heightening job insecurity concerns, and also that managers can improve the technology-enabled multichannel capabilities of the firm by giving priority attention to human capital improvement, sales force control systems, and communication of the digitization strategy.