In a nutshell: Linking B2B sales performance to entrepreneurial selling actions

Scientific articles contain valuable management implications, but are usually not very easy to digest. We summarize the core results so that you can use the latest research findings for your company.

download article


This study examines the interrelationships between entrepreneurial self-efficacy, entrepreneurial selling actions, and individual business-to-business (B2B) sales performance. Research conducted on the antecedents of B2B sales performance only explains a small amount of the variances in salesperson performance. The research has also neglected the possible role of entrepreneurship approaches in explaining and improving B2B sales performance. The purpose of this study is to explore the overall research question: What are the interrelationships between individual sales performance in a B2B context and: (i) entrepreneurial self-efficacy and (ii) entrepreneurial sales actions? […]
Data was collected through a survey of 252 participants (B2B salespeople working in Australia). Structured equation modeling was used to analyze and test the hypotheses.
The findings suggest that entrepreneurial self-efficacy strongly influences sales innovativeness and creative selling, highlighting the importance of senior management encouraging and rewarding new selling methods (a salesperson’s entrepreneurial actions). Finally, these sales actions positively and significantly impacted individual sales performance. Thus, creative selling and sales innovativeness are powerful influencers of personal sales performance.
This research contributes to the sales performance literature by highlighting the relationship between entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE), creative selling, and sales innovativeness. These findings provide additional lessons for senior management when pursuing increased growth and sales performance. As ESE has a positive impact on a salesperson’s actions and performance, senior management may wish to encourage an internal environment in which ESE behaviors are not only accepted but encouraged.

Key statements

Act independently and responsibly, and engage with customers in a proactive and solution-oriented way, always giving consideration to cost-effectiveness – all of these are important characteristics for salespeople during times of major competitive pressure and economic uncertainty. In a nutshell, all of these characteristics fall under the umbrella concept of entrepreneurship.
In their study the authors investigate the significance that these approaches and attitudes to work actually have for companies as well as the extent to which entrepreneurship affects employee performance. In order to do so, they examined interview data from 252 B2B sales employees. The authors concluded that entrepreneurship should be a key consideration also within large B2B companies. This is because sales employees can markedly improve their performance by acting with an entrepreneurial spirit, for instance by applying innovative and creative sales strategies. However, sales staff need to strike a delicate balance: although they should seek to improve their performance, they also have to act in line with company guidelines. This means that salespeople often do not exploit their full potential.
The following levers will support you in promoting entrepreneurship in your company:

  • Avoid micro-management: Entrepreneurship starts with the little things. Leave enough room to your sales employees to take decisions independently and avoid micro-managing.
  • Promote identification with the company: Employees with an entrepreneurial mindset identify strongly with their work and their employer. Reward any employee who goes the extra mile and becomes an ambassador for your company.
  • Anchor entrepreneurial thinking among top management: An entrepreneurial approach will only have tangible effects if it is evident within everyday business. Be aware of the exemplary role of top management also in this regard.

Edwards, J., Miles, M. P., D’Alessandro, S. & Frost, M. (2022). Linking B2B sales performance to entre-preneurial self-efficacy, entrepreneurial selling actions. Journal of Business Research, 142, 585–593