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Business-to-Business: The Salesperson's Dilemma

Author(s): Gopala Ganesh | Somjit Barat

Journal: American Journal of Economics and Business Administration
ISSN 1945-5488

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 456;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Business-to-business | electronic commerce | purchase professionals | sales persons | academic implications | rebuy transactions | B2B e-commerce | B2B buyers | collecting data | empirical studies | census bureau statistics | hypotheses development

Problem statement: There is a lack of research on B2B e-commerce, especially involving input from B2B executives. To bridge that gap, we investigate whether (1) buyers and sellers differ significantly in their preference for traditional over the online purchase method across different products and across different purchase criteria and whether (2) buyers prefer the traditional over the online method across the straight rebuy, modified rebuy and new task buying situations. In the process, we test the following hypotheses: In general, buyers prefer traditional B2B over online for B2B purchases; buyers prefer the online over traditional method of transaction for straight rebuy; buyers prefer the traditional over online method of transaction for modified rebuy and buyers prefer the traditional over online method of transaction for new task. Approach: The authors queried B2B salespersons and B2B purchase professionals across a wide range of industries, representing a crosssection of products and purchase criteria. We use independent samples t-test for our hypotheses, since the main objective is to test direction and/significance of (differences in) preference. Results: The results show that traditional B2B is the buyers’ preferred procurement method. Buyers, however, prefer the online method for straight rebuy transactions and the traditional method for modified rebuy and new task situations. Conclusion: Efforts to measure purchase preference from a B2B buyer’s and seller’s perspectives are few and far between, the main reason being the difficulty of collecting data from industry professionals. Given the popularity of B2B e-commerce and the interesting managerial and academic implications we have provided, the authors believe that this research provides valuable contribution. We also offer suggestions for future research.
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