The purpose of this licentiate thesis is to contribute to the body of knowledge of the development of customer teams for key customers in industrial selling.
The study covers issues of why customer teams are formed, the interaction between the team and the customer, as well as the organisation and development of the customer team. The focus of the study is contained in the following questions:
- What are the affecting factors and motives for the coordination of sales?
- What are the characteristics of the customer team work set-up?
- What are the results of the customer team work?
The method employed was to compare two case studies of customer teams. The customer teams consisted of sales engineers from various ABB companies in Sweden. The two teams were formed for the customers Svedala-Arbrå and ABS Pumps. The empirical material was analysed primarily by comparing the two customer teams, using theories on coordination, combined with an analytical model on sales teams.
A model was developed, describing the affecting factors on customer teams, the customer team work and the effects of the customer team.
To increase shares in the already saturated market, was one of the most important drivers for the formation of customer teams. The customers in this study affected the customer team work primarily in terms of how the work was to be organised. Interdependence between selling companies and their sales conditions greatly affected the customer team work.
The two teams were found to have differences in their characteristics. The first customer team followed guidelines more closely, had a more comprehensive approach with a larger customer team, and were more focused on the development of long-term relationships than the second team. The second customer team had more of a contingency approach towards its task. This team was also smaller, and the number of customer team participants was allowed to vary over time. For this customer team the most important aspect was the coordination of products in terms of technical as well as commercial issues.
A number of customer team effects were found in the study. Of special importance were the tangible factors, such as the economic results, the product and system adaptations, and the intangible factors, such as the relationship development. In the border zone between the tangibles and intangibles were the synergetic effects which resulted from the joint type of sales activities.
Linköping: EkoomiTryckarna AB , 1998. , 188 p.