Antecedents and Consequences of Sales Representatives' Relationship Termination Competence

Jens Geersbro, Thomas Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Most firms have a number of unprofitable customer relationships that drain the firms' resources. However, firms in general and sales representatives in particular hesitate to address this problem and, ultimately, to terminate business relationships. This paper therefore aims to investigate the antecedents and consequences of sales representatives' relationship termination competence. Design/methodology/approach: A model of antecedents of sales representatives' relationship termination competence is developed and tested using a cross-sectional survey of more than 800 sales representatives. The impact of the constructs "termination acceptance", "definition of non-customer", "termination routines" and "termination incentives" on termination competence are analyzed using PLS. Findings: A sales representative's termination competence is positively influenced by greater clarity and wider dissemination of the definition of a "non-customer", higher prevalence of termination routines, and increasing degrees of termination incentives. Acceptance of relationship termination at the firm level does not appear to have a significant impact on sales representatives' relationship termination competence. In addition, termination competence significantly affects the value of customer portfolios. Practical implications: The findings suggest that managers should more actively consider relationship termination as a legitimate option in customer relationship management. In order to increase the value of a firm's customer portfolio, managers must not only provide a clear definition of the types of customers the organization does not want to serve, but must also implement termination routines within the organization. Managers also need to establish incentives for sales representatives to terminate relationships with unprofitable customers. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the currently scarce research on relationship termination by documenting results from a large-scale analysis of relationship termination
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business and Industrial Marketing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)41-49
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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