ABSTRACT

Purpose - Previous research has shown that a very high level and a very low level of job scope can both be more stressful than intermediate levels of job scope. This study investigates the potential positive and negative effects of the number of accounts handled by sales personnel. The primary objective of this paper is to examine how the number of accounts salespeople handle affects their stress and performance. Research design, data, and methodology - This research conducted the data collection using a survey of salespeople in the pharmaceutical industry. I sent the survey to 420 salespeople, and received 318 usable responses. To assess measurement reliability and validity, I ran an exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. I also employed structural equation modeling (SEM) to test all hypothesized effects in AMOS and also measured the interaction variable using Ping’s (1996) approach. Results - These results show that there are linear and non-linear effects of the number of accounts handled by the salesperson on both role ambiguity and role conflict. First, the number of accounts handled by a salesperson is positively related to role ambiguity and role conflict. Second, the effect of the number of accounts handled on role ambiguity and role conflict decreases as the number of accounts handled by the salesperson increases. Third, as accounts increase from a low level, role stress increases; when the number of accounts reaches an optimal level, role stress decreases; and when the number of accounts increases to a high level, it can be detrimental to the salesperson's role stress. Fourth, while product complexity is positively related to role ambiguity, brand strength is negatively related to both role ambiguity and role conflict. Fifth, the greater the brand strength, the weaker the relationship will be between the number of accounts handled and salesperson role ambiguity. Finally, role ambiguity is positively related to salesperson performance. Conclusion - Too much and too little accounts increase the role ambiguity and role conflict of salespersons. Managers should identify the complex effect of the number of accounts handled by salespeople. Also, when products are complex, managers should provide training to eliminate any complex processes and complex information. These results suggest ways to decrease salespersons’ role stress by ensuring an optimal level of the number of accounts and brand strength.

KEYWORD

Number of Accounts, Brand Strength, Product Complexity, Non Linear Relationship

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