Sales Force Capabilities and Performance

22 August 2019


Organizational leaders recognize that the sales force has a direct impact on revenue and firm performance, and plays a key role in the firm’s competitive advantage.

However, it remains unclear how the sales force delivers on these outcomes. For example, we know that spending more on the sales force can drive revenue, but does this provide a strategic answer for sales leaders to respond to competitive threats in the market? Rather than enter an arms race with competing sales forces, sales leaders need better guidance on where to strategically focus investments in improving sales force capabilities and performance.

This research study addresses this problem by examining a broader set of sales force performance drivers to understand their relative influence on performance outcomes. Specifically, we categorize these drivers into five core sales force capabilities — processes for effectively delivering value to rapidly changing markets.

By linking each sales force capability with performance outcomes, research findings will quantify the value firms can realize from strategically investing in specific sales force activities. Additional research questions addressed in the study include:

What are the core capabilities that comprise a sales force’s selling activities?

Which capabilities are the strongest drivers of customer, market and firm performance?

And, how do the sales force capabilities of high-performing firms compare with other organizations?

Condition of Participation

Research participants are asked to complete an online survey lasting approximately 10 minutes, and may optionally elect to participate in a brief follow-up survey.

Participation Eligibility

The study is open to management practitioners responsible for developing, supporting, or managing a sales force organization. Target participants are involved in decision-making for the entire sales force organization in roles often found in executive sales leadership, sales strategy, sales performance management, sales effectiveness, and sales operations.

Benefits of Participation

  • A copy of the findings report on this research topic
  • An invitation to a Sales Management Association webcast in which summary findings are presented to our audience, TBD

Research Timeline

  • Research closes December 2019
  • Research report is expected to publish TBD


Survey results are only reported in aggregate, and never in a way that would compromise the identity of any single respondent. All individual respondent data are treated with strict confidentiality and will not be distributed.

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