Provenance, evolution, and transition of personal selling and sales management to strategic marketing channel management

Rolph E. Anderson, Alex H. Cohen, Paul F. Christ, Rajiv Mehta, Alan J. Dubinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Personal selling and sales management issues have been the focus of tremendous attention by research scholars, thus expanding our extant knowledge of the field of marketing. However, studies on the development of the discipline of personal selling and sales management from a historical perspective have been sparse. Accordingly, this manuscript makes a unique contribution by partially addressing this gap in the literature by tracing the transition of personal selling through sales management to a prominent role in strategic marketing channel management. From a historical vantage point this article discusses the genesis and evolution of personal selling and sales management, which include the Pioneer Era (1750–1780), Era of Scarcity (1780–1820), Era of Production (1820–1870), Era of Innovation and Growth (1870–1914), Era of Scientific Management (1880–1920), Era of the Roaring Twenties (1920–1929), Era of World Turmoil (1929–1945), Era of Postwar Recovery and Prosperity (1945–1977), Era of Personal Computers, Empowerment of Salespeople, Changing Roles of Sales Managers (1977–2000), and the Era of Customer Relationships and Top-Level Sales Managers As Strategic Channel Managers (2000–Present). With reference to the current era, the article discusses the role salespeople in general and senior- to top-level sales managers in particular play in fostering long-term relationships with a firm’s marketing channel members by moving from transactional selling and relationship selling to the current greater emphasis on forging symbiotic and synergistic strategic partnerships/alliances with reseller intermediaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-42
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marketing Channels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing


  • Personal selling and sales management history
  • relationship selling
  • strategic alliances/partnerships
  • strategic marketing channel management
  • transactional selling


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