The changing role of sales: viewing sales as a strategic, cross-functional process

Kaj Storbacka, Lynette Ryals, Iain Davies, Suvi Nenonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Although there is substantial practitioner evidence for changes in the role and functioning of sales in the twenty-first century, there is little academic research charting new directions for the sales function in a business-to-business context. This paper aims to report on four case studies that illustrate how sales is changing. Design/methodology/approach - The case studies involve large global companies who were changing their existing sales process to adapt to changing circumstances. The organizations comprised four global industries - Construction, power solutions, building technology, and electronics and software. Findings - The results demonstrate that sales is changing in three interrelated aspects: From a function to a process; from an isolated activity to an integrated one; and is becoming strategic rather than operational. Originality/value - The results suggest that changes in the role of sales will affect sales processes and the way that the sales function liaises with other departments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-906
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2009


  • case studies
  • change management
  • sales
  • sales force
  • sales strategies

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