Understanding the Sales-Marketing Interface Dysfunction Experience in Business-to-Business Firms: A Matter of Perspective



Date of this version


Document Type



Sales-marketing interface, Dysfunction experience, Sensemaking, Qualitative


Despite its importance, the sales-marketing interface (SMI) in business-to-business (B2B) firms is often dysfunctional. While scholars have proposed functional-level impactors of SMIs, research that examines how sales and marketing personnel, at an individual level, perceive, evaluate, and respond to SMI dysfunction is sparse. Our study employs a discovery-oriented, theories-in-use approach and uses in-depth interview data collected from 42 participants in 21 sales-marketing dyads across multiple levels from a variety of B2B industries to examine this phenomenon. Findings reveal that the same dysfunction may trigger vastly different sensemaking processes in sales and marketing personnel's minds wherein they sense and interpret the same dysfunction encounter differently. These interpretations lead them to resort to activities that may, at times, be counterproductive to resolving the dysfunction. In addition, sales and marketing personnel view the interface dysfunctions as following a bidirectional pattern, as opposed to a sequential pattern that has been documented in the literature. Collectively, differential dysfunction experiences within the SMI have implications for whether and to what extent the dysfunction is addressed.

Published in

Industrial Marketing Management

Citation/Other Information

63, 145-157