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EMAC 2023 Annual

The Value of Intellectual Capital for Business-To-Business Selling

Published: May 24, 2023


Franziska Schmid, Oregon State University; J. Andrew Petersen, Pennsylvania State University; Rajkumar Venkatesan, University of Virginia


In business-to-business (B2B), salespeople allocate their efforts to pursue customer acquisition, rebuying, and cross-selling opportunities. In this research, we study how different types of intellectual capital (human, social, and organizational capital) influence a salesperson’s sales effort allocation decisions and selling success. We use data from a B2B paper-and-packaging firm to empirically test our conceptual model, where we observe over 70,000 sales opportunities and their outcomes. We find that a salesperson’s human capital, tied to experience, is most helpful for rebuying. Moreover, social capital, measured using betweenness centrality in informal networks, positively impacts the choice of cross-selling opportunities. These findings suggest that different sources of knowledge have different effects on B2B selling activities. Consequently, supporting salespeople in growing intellectual capital through network building or experience can enhance opportunities for new revenue growth.