Ryan Mullins hit a trifecta in the world of academics in July.

Mullins, marketing, reseach, grant, award

Ryan Mullins
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

The associate professor of marketing in the Clemson University College of Business has won a research award, had another paper accepted in marketing’s flagship journal, and received a grant to further pursue research in his area of expertise – sales force management and sales teams – all in the month of July.

“In academics, it’s often difficult to predict when you’re going to see the rewards of your research efforts. So it’s been fulfilling to receive tangible evidence, all at once, of my research in recent years,” Mullins said. “It helps put Clemson on the map as a knowledge resource for students and business executives, and it encourages me to continue my passion for research in the sales field.”

Mullins and a team of four researchers from the University of Alabama, Ohio University and the University of Wyoming learned this month they are recipients of the 2017 James M. Comer Award for the Best Contribution to Selling and Sales Management Theory. The annual award recognizes research that extends previous thinking on sales-related research, or creates a new understanding of it. The Comer Award is presented by the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, considered the premier academic journal dedicated to the sales function.

“Do Sales and Service Compete? The Impact of Multiple Psychological Climates on Frontline Employee Performance” examined salespeople’s perception of conflicting demands within sales organizations.

“Salespeople often perceive certain expectations and norms to determine what is rewarded in their organization. Our research focused on the idea that there can be multiple, competing expectations in sales organizations that compete for the salesperson’s behavior and performance,” Mullins said. “In particular, sales and service climates can compete against one another, which frequently results in unintended trade-offs.”

Mullins was also notified this month his research on sales force layoffs has been accepted by marketing’s flagship journal, the Journal of Marketing.

The research, “Sales Force Downsizing and Firm Idiosyncratic Risk: The Contingent role of Investors’ Screening and Firm’s Signaling Processes,” will be published soon online.

Mullins and a team of international researchers studied the financial market impact that sales force layoffs had on Fortune 500 companies over a 12-year period. The primary finding from the study shows that larger sales force reductions led to greater volatility in the firm’s stock price – a key factor for evaluating a firm’s value and borrowing costs. Building on this link, the study also identifies investor factors that worsen the layoff-volatility link, as well as managerial strategies to stabilize firm value during layoffs.

Finally, the Clemson associate professor of marketing received one of two grants the Sales Education Foundation awards annually for research on sales management-related challenges.

The grant will be directed to Mullins’ upcoming work, “Uncovering the Impact of Sales Force Capabilities on Firm Performance.” The study will examine the impact of several key sales force processes and activities on overall firm performance outcomes.

“Historically, research in our field focuses more on individual salespeople. This study will help researchers and executives better understand how the sales force, overall, links strategically to the firm’s performance. It will provide better evidence of the return on investment that results from changes in the sales force,” Mullins said.

Jesse Moore, Department of Marketing chair, said Mullins’ rewarding month is the culmination of hard work, and indicative of the caliber of Clemson’s marketing faculty.

“The recognition Ryan has received is a testament to his commitment to finding answers to questions that will benefit business and sales professionals,” Moore said. “Ryan’s work is on the forefront of sales research and a shining example of the stature of our marketing faculty.”

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