Busch, Tina Killough (2012-07). Determining Competencies for Frontline Sales Managers in For-Profit Organizations. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Practice in the sales profession and current competency research indicate salesperson competence is key to organizational competitive advantage. With models of selling evolving to respond to the marketplace, there are changes in the competency requirements and roles people must play for future success, resulting in the emergence of new kinds of sales professionals. While there has been research in the area of entry-level salesperson competency, there is a gap in the literature regarding sales manager competence. Despite potential for sales managers to influence salesperson performance in the evolving sales models, research focusing on sales manager selection, development, and performance is limited. The purpose of this research was to synthesize sales manager competency perceptions, propose an inventory of competencies for frontline sales managers (FLSMs) in for-profit organizations that can assist in improving individual, team, and organizational performance, and generate recommended uses of the competency model that could serve as a guide for human resources initiatives to increase levels of sales force effectiveness. The Delphi technique was the chosen research method for this study, with an expert panel of 35 nominated Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) and FLSMs. Through a threeround electronic questionnaire series, the panel reached consensus on 34 competencies in eight clusters in the following three categories considered essential for exemplary performance by FLSMs: team effectiveness, personal effectiveness, execution and results. All numerical data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Spearman's rank order correlation coefficient was used to determine the degree of agreement among respondents, and the constant comparative method of data analysis was used to synthesize panelist's input. The findings of this study resulted in the following conclusions: Exemplary performance in FLSMs requires competence in developing and sustaining inter- and intrapersonal skills excellence as compared to the functional selling skills required for high individual contributor performance; There was agreement in how CSOs and FLSMs perceive competency importance; There was strong disagreement in how CSOs and FLSMs perceive FLSM competence; Both groups report they would use the FLSM Competency Model as a coaching tool; FLSMs noted the primary use of the competency model would be to benchmark their skills.

publication date

  • July 2012