The last major study of sales performance variance explained by salespeople attributes was by Churchill et al. (1985). They examined the effect of role, skills, motivation, personal factors, aptitude, and organizational/environmental factors on sales performance—factors that have dominated the sales performance area. About the same time, Weitz, Sujan, and Sujan (1986) introduced the concepts of salespeople's knowledge structures. Considerable work on the relationship of the elements of knowledge structures and performance can be found in the literature. In this research note, we determine the degree to which sales performance can be explained by knowledge structure variables, a heretofore unexplored area. If knowledge structure variables explain more variance than traditional variables, then this paper would be a call to further research in this area. In examining this research question in a retail context, we find that knowledge structure variables explain 50.2 percent of the variance in sales performance. We also find that variance explained by knowledge structures is significantly different based on gender. The impact of knowledge structures on performance was higher for men than for women. The models using education demonstrated smaller differences.
Sharma, A., Levy, M., & Evanschitzky, H. (2007). The variance in sales performance explained by the knowledge structures of salespeople. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 27(2), 169-181. https://doi.org/10.2753/PSS0885-3134270204