Trends in optimization models of sales force management

Sönke Albers*, Kalyan Raman, Nick Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the last half-century, significant advances have been made in directing sales force behavior with the use of optimization and decision models. The present paper both presents the current state-of-the art in sales force decision modeling, and also discusses key issues and trends in contemporary modeling of relevance to sales force researchers. The paper begins by exploring critical concepts regarding the estimation of the sales response function, and then discusses critical problems of endogeneity, heterogeneity, and temporal variation that are faced by modelers in this task. Modern approaches to dealing with these issues are presented. We then discuss areas of importance concerning finding model solutions, including closed form versus simulation, and optimization versus heuristic solutions. The paper next moves to areas of practical importance where models can help, including call planning, sales force size, territory allocation, and compensation design. Finally, we discuss trends that will likely impact on sales force modeling in coming years, including the use of big data and data mining, the possible breakdown of rationality, the rise of the Internet and social media, and the potential of agent-based modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-291
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personal Selling and Sales Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Model
  • Modeling
  • Optimization
  • Sales force management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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