The Cranfield PhD - Business-to-business selling and relationship management

Cranfield School of Management

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PhD Opportunities

Business-to-business selling and relationship management

Supervisor: Lynette Ryals MA (Oxon) MBA PhD FSIP

Supervisor: Iain Davies 

Supervisor: Ken Le Meunier-FitzHugh  MA MBA PhD DMS PgCERT FHEA

In a tougher business-to-business world where customers are becoming more powerful, more knowledgeable and more sophisticated, the way in which companies manage their relationships with key customers is vital. Previous research has suggested that long-term relationships can pay off for buyers and for suppliers. However, poor management of these key customer relationships can lead to damage to corporate profitability through over-servicing clients (higher costs) and loss of customer revenues (pricing issues, total loss of the customer, or customer migration to alternative suppliers). Cranfield has a leading position in research into strategic selling and account management.

There are several exciting areas for doctoral research in this fast-growing field:

  • How is value created and shared in business-to-business relationships?
  • What new selling strategies are emerging? How does consultative or relationship selling differ from traditional selling?
  • Why are some sales or key account managers or teams more effective than others?
  • How do you motivate and reward a sales team for maximum performance?
  • How are technological changes such as e-procurement changing the sales role and how can the sales team adapt?
  • What are the organisational implications of moving to relationship selling / key account management?
  • What selling strategies do key account managers use successfully?
  • What skills do key account managers need?
  • What characterises successful b2b collaborative relationships?

These doctoral research areas could be researched using qualitative or quantitative techniques.

Candidate profile

Candidates should ideally have at least three years? marketing or sales experience however, candidates from other disciplines may be considered. A masters degree is desirable but not obligatory. Candidates with interests in this area are invited to make contact with Professor Lynette Ryals (, setting out a preliminary research agenda as a guide to discussion and indicating what reading you have so far done around your topic.

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