Identifying, Analyzing, and Finding Solutions to the Sales Lead Black Hole: A Design Science Approach

Michel Van der Borgh*, Juan Xu, Marin Sikkenk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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In this paper, we apply a design science approach to help a business-to-business product-solution provider find solutions to the sales lead black hole. Our proposed solution emerges by leveraging insights from decision-making literature and operations management literature. The proposed design rules help marketing representatives assign leads more effectively to sales representatives, thereby fostering follow-up of marketing generated leads. In addition to our efforts to solve the sales lead black hole, we gain insights into how authentic marketing problems can be addressed through design research. By outlining a five-step procedure we illustrate how marketing scholars and practitioners jointly can address practical problems in a rigorous manner. The approach ensures that relevant research is conducted using state-of-the-art research methodologies. As such, the design science research approach is multi-method, multi-source, and multi-step in nature. Finally, by developing normative design rules we not only provide managers with prescriptive knowledge on what to do in certain problem situations, but also provide testable propositions that researchers can validate in other contexts. As such, the authors build on and extend the rich marketing research tradition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)136-151
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Sales lead black hole
  • Design science
  • Business-to-business
  • Lead allocation
  • Solution selling
  • Marketing research

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