Sales Management Control Systems: Review, Synthesis, and Directions for Future Exploration

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Sales management control systems (SMCSs) are designed to align salespeople’s activities and actions with organizational objectives. This article reviews and synthesizes over 50 SMCS articles published in sales, marketing, and management journals over the past 30 years. We begin by building a comprehensive framework that enables us to classify prior research into digestible categories (e.g., SMCSs as antecedents, SMCSs as consequences). Next, we present an analysis of gaps in the literature. Among other findings, our analysis reveals that there is an overwhelming focus on the use of formal (specifically behavior- and outcome-based) controls as compared to their informal control counterparts. Finally, we suggest avenues for future research: (1) mapping and understanding the full spectrum of control mechanisms, (2) developing a fuller understanding of the often-overlooked forms of control (e.g., input and cultural controls), and (3) more thoroughly analyzing how controls operate (or do not operate) as an integrated system.