Research Seminar by Prof. S. Arunachalam, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad Campus was held on September 30, 2021.
Seminar Topic – Throwdown (A Multi-Segment Sales Contest) vs. Traditional (Single Segment) Sales Contest: Evidence From Field and Lab Experiments
Abstract – Traditional sales contests, where all salespeople compete in a single segment, do not motivate the entire sales force since only the top performers have a realistic chance of winning. To overcome this drawback, this research drawing on self-determination theory (SDT), introduces Throwdown, a multi-segment sales contest, where salespeople are segmented based on their past performance and compete only against their peers. The results of a randomized field experiment show a) a traditional sales contest did not yield a significant improvement in performance compared to a no-contest scenario and b) Throwdown generated a greater impact on performance compared to both a no-sales contest scenario and the equivalent traditional contest. Moreover, the authors find that the difference in the effectiveness of Throwdown and the traditional contest is greater (lower) for salespeople with higher controlled (autonomous) regulation. To understand Throwdown’s mechanisms, the authors conducted an online experiment under tighter experimental conditions. The results provide evidence for the hypothesized SDT-based mechanisms while ruling out competing arguments, thus strengthening the internal validity of the findings. Two follow-up field studies with nuanced Throwdown designs involving more than 3,000 salespeople show a robust impact on performance, demonstrating the generalizability of Throwdown.