Communication Preferences of Business-to-Business Buyers for Receiving Initial Sales Messages: A Comparison of Media Channel Selection Theories

Abram D Anders, Joshua T. Coleman, Stephen B. Castleberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research on media channel selection theories has called for studies exploring communication in interorganizational business relationships and for specific work functions. The present study addresses this need through an exploration of buyer-seller communication practices in business-to-business contexts. Based on a survey of buyers, it offers a comparison of e-mail and voice mail with an emphasis on preferences for initial or cold call sales messages. The study design compares the explanatory power of three prominent theories of media channel selection: media richness theory, channel expansion theory, and media synchronicity theory. Results indicate that e-mail and voice mail/phone are the most frequently used media channels for business-to-business sales communication. Buyers preferred to receive initial messages from new salespeople by e-mail. Voice mail and phone are preferred for specific processes in established relationships, including conflict resolution, negotiations, and relationship building. Of the three theoretical models, media synchronicity theory offered the most thorough and robust account of buyer media preferences and channel selection rationales. Congruent with the expectations of media synchronicity theory, buyers preferred e-mail for communication processes characterized by the conveyance of information due to its capabilities for information processing. In particular, buyers preferred the higher parallelism of e-mail—including its capabilities for engaging in multiple conversations simultaneously—as it supported multitasking working styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-400
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Business Communication
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was generously supported by the University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor’s Small Grant fund.

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the cooperation of the Institute for Supply Management, the American Purchasing Society, and professional buyer Paul Eck. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was generously supported by the University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor?s Small Grant fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.

Keywords

  • business-to-business
  • communication
  • e-mail
  • media channel selection
  • sales messages
  • voice mail

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