Study shows how exploiting the use of e-negotiations could boost B2B contracts

In a new paper, a group of marketing researchers studied how effective e-negotiations are in generating more B2B sales compared to conventional face-to-face communications.

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With advances in the digital world, for quite some time now, the enactment of negotiations between business partners by electronic means, most notably e-mail, have been central in business-to-business (B2B) sales strategies.

As part of a recent paper, released online in the Journal of Marketing, an alliance of marketing researchers studied how effective e-negotiations are in generating more B2B sales compared to conventional face-to-face communications.

“This research investigates salespeople’s use of influence tactics as textual cues to manage buyers’ attention during B2B e-negotiations to win sales contract award,” wrote Sunil K. Singh, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the College of Business, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-author of the study.

“Drawing on studies of attention as a selection heuristic, the authors advance the literature on mechanisms of sales influence by theorizing buyer attention as a key mediating variable between the use of influence tactics and contract award.”

Conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, and Case Western Reserve University, the group gathered e-negotiation communication data of over 40 e-negotiations between a span of two years.

The email communications data of B2B sales negotiations contained validated corpus of textual cues synonymous with influence tactics of sales partners, according to researchers. “These e-communications data are augmented by salesperson in-depth interviews and survey, archival performance data, and a controlled experimental study with professional salespeople.”

After analyzing the communications data, buyer attention was correlated with a higher likelihood of obtaining a contract award. Implementing influence tactics, such as the use of internal analyzation and risk-shifting, were associated with sale effectiveness, but was not sufficient enough to hold a buyer’s attention to secure a contract. Instead, promise and assertiveness are two factors known to make information processing less daunting and minimize uncertainty in deciding risks toward a contract award.

Moreover, the findings also point to the implementation of strategies that build buyer attention during sales e-negotiations. Evidently, researchers found that a 30% surge in buyer attention significantly raised the chances of receiving a contract award. As so, buyer attention should be used as a key process metric, allowing for its measurement among salespeople to establish performance and identify areas needing improvement, researchers determined.

“The obtained results indicate that the concurrent use of compliance or internalization-based tactics as textual cues bolsters buyers’ attention and is associated with greater likelihood of contract award. In contrast, concurrent use of compliance and internalization-based tactics is prone to degrade buyer attention and likely to put the salesperson at a disadvantage in closing the contract award,” Singh, and his colleagues, concluded in the findings.

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