Editorial Volume 37

I am pleased to begin my term as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management (JPSSM) with this issue (Volume 37, Issue 1) and look forward to building on its rich legacy and to enhancing its reputation as the leading international scholarly journal in the field of selling and sales management.  The importance of the sales function to an enterprise’s short and long term vitality is undisputed, and companies are increasingly relying on their sales organizations to be differentiators in the marketplace as they strive to create superior customer value.  The role that sales research can play in advancing knowledge and in enabling firms to improve the effectiveness of their sales organization and practices is not trivial.   Therefore, I assume the helm of the sales field’s pre-eminent scholarly periodical with both humility and a great sense of purpose.

JPSSM has evolved considerably in its 36 years of existence, through the stewardship of many editors who have preceded me.  I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank outgoing Editor-in-Chief Manfred Krafft (University of Muenster) for his fine leadership of the journal over the past three years.  During his term, JPSSM has moved seamlessly to a new publisher, improved its look, and expanded its international presence, while continuing to serve as the field’s leading outlet of sales-oriented research.  Manfred involved me considerably in editorial and operational decisions during my corresponding term as Associate Editor, and this has significantly eased my transition to Editor-in-Chief.

As we move forward, I am delighted to be joined by an excellent editorial team.  Nick Lee (University of Warwick) will assume my former role as Associate Editor and will continue to oversee JPSSM’s special section on Sales Research Methodology while also gradually assisting me with other submissions and editorial matters as he progresses towards assuming editorship of the journal when my term expires in 2020.  Alex LaBrecque (Michigan State University) has already taken over Managing Editor duties from Fabian Kubik, where he is responsible for myriad operational details that enable the journal to run smoothly.  Adam Rapp (Ohio University) and Dawn Deeter-Schmelz (Kansas State University) will provide continuity by remaining at present in their roles as Area Editors of Executive Summaries and Selling & Sales Management Abstracts respectively.  We also welcome a number of new members to our Editorial Review Board while thanking exiting members who have served the journal well but have become less active over time.

Looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, we are excited to be launching a number of new initiatives aimed at increasing JPSSM’s impact and visibility across both academic and practitioner audiences.   First, a series of invited thought pieces from esteemed scholars in the sales domain will begin in an upcoming issue this year and appear regularly henceforth. These thought leaders will reflect on current important issues in sales and sales management with an eye towards identifying major opportunity areas for future research.

Second, we are planning a variety of special issues focusing on subjects of topical interest in the sales domain.  Already underway with a planned publication date of early 2018 is a special issue devoted to “Integrative Reviews of the Sales Literature” in particularly notable and influential areas of sales.  The response in the form of article proposals was so positive to this idea that we will produce a second similar special issue in early 2019 featuring review articles focused on constructs that are well-developed outside of the sales domain (but absent or poorly developed in the sales domain) that may be meaningfully applied conceptually or empirically in a sales context. 

Later in 2018, we will run a special issue on “Intra-organizational Issues in Selling and Sales Management.”  Submissions for this previously announced special issue (guest edited by Willy Bolander and Keith Richards) are due on April 30, 2017.   Soon to be announced (stay tuned for details) and planned for late 2019 publication will be a special issue devoted to articles written by international teams of scholars.  Additional special issue concepts are under discussion.

Third, we have several things in motion aimed at enhancing the stature of JPSSM and its authors while disseminating and publicizing research findings to the broader community.  For example, JPSSM is bolstering its social media presence through an actively managed Linked-In page and group, by refining and expanding its circulation strategy of practitioner-oriented executive summaries, by improving and driving traffic to its website, and by more assertively and strategically promoting its published articles to both academic and practitioner audiences.  Many of these initiatives are supported or augmented by our publisher Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), which shares our objectives.  To aid this, JPSSM’s publishing headquarters have moved from Taylor & Francis’ Oxford office in the U.K. to its Philadelphia office in the U.S.  This will streamline communication and execution in concert with the movement of JPSSM editorial leadership from Muenster University (Germany) to Michigan State University where I reside.

Beyond the Special Issues noted above, we will continue to entertain for our regular issues manuscripts on a wide range of important and interesting problems and opportunities in selling and sales management.  I would like to especially encourage exploration of topical areas that reflect the dynamic nature of the selling environment and that are relatively underdeveloped in the literature to date.  For example, the nature of the sales role itself has evolved in many contexts to one of value creation versus mere value communication.  What are the ramifications for salespeople, sales management, and customers?  As buying organizations increase in size and power and buying processes become more complex, what new questions does this pose for concepts like team and enterprise selling?  How do sales organizations harness, coordinate, and leverage new and existing technologies, e.g., social media, and what are the implications for the building and sustaining of customer relationships?  In a global economy, how transferable are sales research findings across nationalities and cultures?  Given salespeople’s relative autonomy, what factors influence salesperson decision-making and what are related ramifications?  The bulk of sales research is understandably behavioral and “micro” in nature.  But are there more macro strategic issues in sales that could be fruitfully investigated? For instance, how are sales organizations grappling structurally and otherwise with the challenges of commoditization or issues like disintermediation? Also, while much sales research logically has the salesperson as the unit of analysis, the field could benefit from a deeper understanding of drivers of sales manager effectiveness as well as topics dealing with leadership and development of the sales organization.  These are just a few examples to stimulate some thinking.  Of course there are scores of other potentially valuable topics in selling and sales management that could add value to our readers and that we also would be interested in seeing research on.  Authors are encouraged to read “JPSSM Since the Beginning: Intellectual Cornerstones, Knowledge Structure, and Thematic Developments” (2016, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 36(4), 321-343), where Schrock et al identify key research themes emerging from 35 years of JPSSM articles while identifying emerging and new avenues of sales research.  What can we effectively build on and where can we break new ground as a field?

JPSSM remains open to research employing any rigorous methodology, both quantitative and qualitative.  Well-conceived and well-executed conceptual articles are also welcome. 

Our intent at JPSSM is to provide timely and constructive feedback to every manuscript received.  Lately we have averaged about 45 days from submission to first decision and we are striving to improve further on this.  About one-third of papers are desk-rejected, often because they lack relevance to our audience, i.e., they do not directly address a substantive issue in sales or sales management.  Others fail here because they clearly fall short of journal standards in one or more ways (see below) and are deemed by the editor as being very unlikely to survive the review process.  I try to be explicit in my remarks to authors here and offer suggestions where possible as to what might be done to get the manuscript to a submission-worthy state.

As a word of general advice to authors, there are fundamental things you can do to greatly enhance your chances of a favorable review.  In particular, be very mindful of the positioning and structure of your manuscript.  Early on, I (and reviewers) want to know the following:  1) what the problem is, 2) why it is important, 3) what we know and do not know about it currently, 4) what specifically your research is going to demonstrate that is novel or that advances knowledge in some meaningful way, and 5) what the field (both academic and practitioner) stands to gain from this.  Beyond that of course the paper must be theoretically sound, logically structured, and well-written, and the methodology must be rigorous and well-executed.  But too often authors simply fail to build a compelling case for their research.  It is the authors’ job to convey to the reader the importance of the research question(s) and findings, so please give this ample attention. 

I encourage reviewers to be diligent, comprehensive, frank, and respectful in their reviews but above all to be constructive.  A good rule of thumb for reviewers is to write the kind of review that they would like to see as authors.  Specifically, both strengths and weaknesses should be identified, and where issues are raised, they should be well-explained and include corresponding recommendations as to how they might be addressed in a revision.  Whether or not the manuscript is ultimately offered a revision opportunity by the editor, I want the authors to walk away with a useful appraisal of their work that includes concrete action items regarding how it might be improved either for resubmission to JPSSM or for consideration elsewhere. In short, my aim is for the review process at JPSSM to be developmental in nature.

Turning attention to the current issue of JPSSM, we kick off 2017 with a “Special Issue on the Intersection of Sales and Service,” guest edited by Adam Rapp and Tom Baker.  Increasingly the distinction between sales and service roles in customer interactions is blurring as consultative selling practices encourage salespeople to look beyond the sale to service provision and as service personnel are directed to also perform selling functions, e.g., up-sell and cross-sell.  However, research on the sales-service interface is still in its relative infancy.  We have much to learn about how organizations can simultaneously achieve both sales and service objectives. This issue begins with an introduction by Rapp and Baker that sets the stage, followed by a succession of interesting and informative articles by 1) Ogilvie, Rapp, Bachrach, Mullins, and Harvey on the interaction of sales and service climates within firms and its impact on employee performance, 2) Agnihotri, Gabler, Itani, Jaramillo, and Krush on the impact of sales-service ambidexterity on employee and customer outcomes, 3) Friend and Johnson on the effects of sales and service complacency on B2B relationships, 4) Meyer, Barnes, and Friend on customer perceptions of sales and service and their influence on re-patronage in a retail environment, and 5) Schwepker, Jr. on the role of psychological ethical climate and leader-member exchange on salespeople’s commitment to provide superior customer value and intentions to act unethically.

I hope that you enjoy this issue. I look forward to providing many more excellent issues of the sales field’s premier academic journal as the next three years unfold.  Thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management.  Your feedback and input is always valued and can be directed to jpssm@msu.edu.

Douglas E. Hughes

Editor-in-Chief, JPSSM

Michigan State University