Founders of new business startups are better off developing their selling and commercial capabilities in the very early stages of the company. This is the result of a new study by Ilona Pitkänen, Petri Parvinen and Pekka Töytäri, whcih has been published in a prestigious journal, Journal of Product Innovation Management.The study makes evident that a lack of sales competency in the founding team cannot be substituted by marketing or further product development capabilities.

Although entrepreneurs understand the importance of commercial skills, these are too often neglected in the initial stages of starting the business, when selling something for the first time. This is particularly the case for founders of high-tech startups. This research suggests that ignoring the initial commercial side of the operations would be to the detriment of the long-term future of the business. The first significant sale seems to have a very influential impact on future sales growth and company development over the long term.
The study of 113 startup companies from various industries began in 2011 in conjunction with the Aalto University Startup Centerand Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
The full article can be found here.

Aalto news publication is to be found here

Petri Parvisen kirja ”Myyntipsykologia: Näin meille myydään” on valittu Suomen Ekonomiliitto SEFE:n kirjallisuuspalkinnon finalistiksi 43:n ehdokkaan joukosta. Ekonomiliiton kirjallisuuspalkinto on tunnustus erityisen laadukkaalle ja ajankohtaiselle teokselle, joka edustaa kauppatieteellisten tutkintojen osaamis- ja tutkimusalueita. Kilpailun palkintosumma on 30 000 euroa. Palkinto jaetaan kahden vuoden välein kilpailuun ilmoitettujen suomalaisten yrityskirjojen kesken. Yleisö voi myös äänestää omaa suosikkiaan SEFEn verkkosivuilla.

The incredible success of Finnish game developers has turned heads all over the world; Many companies from other industries wish to be able to learn the ways that games use to inspire and motivate their users. At the same time, however, game companies aim to implement systematic sales and customer relationship management practices in order to avoid the threat of short customer relationships and “one hit wonders”.

A new research project called “Hook – Sales Psychology in Games, Game Psychology in Sales Work” studies the use of customer behavior analytics and sales algorithms in the gaming business and game mechanics, dynamics and psychology in B2B sales work. In both of the approaches the aim is to explore ways that motivate a customer to engage herself in the use of a service in a value-creating manner – be it a game or a B2B service.  The results of the project are expected to promote sustainable and preserving business both from the perspectives of customer value and sales revenue.

The project is jointly carried out by Aalto University School of Business and Tampere University and the corporate partners of the project are Veikkaus, Helsingin kauppiaitten yhdistys (a retailer interest group), Kneto, Frosmo and Suomen Ostohyvitys. The responsible leaders of the project are professor of sales management Petri Parvinen (Aalto University and University of Helsinki) and professor of information studies Frans Mäyrä (Tampere University). The two-year project (08/2014–08/2016) is part of Tekes’ (The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) Skene – Games Refueled 2012–2015 program.

New project studies innovation selling of cleantech and medtech solutions

Selling Green research project has started in September 2014 as a part of an international Select+ Program. Aalto University is a partner of the program, among various other academic and industrial partners. (Program pages)

The project focuses on innovation sales work and investment activities’ in cleantech and medtech companies. Some of the questions to be addressed are:

-What is the role of hard-to-measure values versus profit margins, as sales arguments?
-How do the different investment activities affect in the sales work in cleantech and medtech companies?
-What is the actual “product” that is payed for when buying from value-loaded startups?
-How do the early investments in sales and marketing affect in the company performance, internationalization and growth?

In Aalto the project is directed by Professor Petri Parvinen and the project manager is PhD cand. Ilona Pitkänen.


Essi Pöyry was nominated for a best paper award with Ph.D. student involvement at the European Marketing Academy’s annual meeting in Valencia in June 2014.

The paper “Pay-What-You-Want – A Field Experiment on Anonymity and Reference Price Cues” (Pöyry & Parvinen) argues that social norms of payment anonymity and reference price cues affect how much customers pay for a product or a service under a PWYW pricing sceme. A field experiement shows that both reference price cues and payment anonymity significantly influence consumers’ price decisions even when the purchase is made online. The experiment increased comparable year-to-year sales by 45 %, net sales margin by 40 % and new customer attraction rate by 28 % of the studied service.

Suomen talouden nousun kannalta mikään ei ole ajankohtaisempaa ja ratkaisevampaa kuin myynnin ja viennin kehittyminen. Suomen kilpailukyky nojaa tulevaisuudessa asioihin, jotka ovat aineettomia eivätkä myy itse itseään. Meistä tulee ammattimaiseen myyntityöhön nojaava kansakunta.

Toisaalta jokainen meistä on joutunut suojautumaan tyrkyttävältä puhelinmyyjältä, samaa ärsyttävää kaavaa toistavalta tarjoilijalta ja lepertelevältä vaatemyyjältä. Myyjille opetetaan myös vaarallisia manipulointikeinoja, joita harva kehtaisi käyttää parisuhteissa, lastenkasvatuksessa tai esimies-alaissuhteissa. Me suomalaiset olemme kansanperimältämme aika erikoista metsäläiskansaa. Suomalainen lapsi leikkii poikkeuksellisen mielellään yksin. Miten meistä tulisi hyviä myyjiä? Myyjän syvintä ammattitaitoa on vuorovaikutuksen psykologia. Mitä enemmän myyntipsykologiasta ja sen tutkimuksesta ymmärtää, sitä kiehtovampana ihmisten käyttäytyminen arjessa näyttäytyy.

Petri Parvisen “Myyntipsykologia – Näin meille myydään” on ilmestynyt kauppoihin. Voit myös ostaa kirjan suoraan netistä.

Researcher and PhD Candidate Essi Pöyry won an Outstanding Doctoral Research Award at the 2nd Annual Workshop on Analytics for Business, Consumer and Social Insights organized by the Singapore Management University in August 2013. The winning paper was called “Pricing New Products with Pay-What-You-Want” and it was co-authored with Petri Parvinen and Maurits Kaptein.

The key message of the paper is that a pricing method called pay-what-you-want (PWYW) can be used to study consumers’ price perceptions in the context of new products and that the method compensates some downsides inherent in other new product pricing mechanisms. At the same time, however, the framing of the PWYW offering has a large impact on the prices consumers are willing to pay, which has to be considered when determining consumers’ value distribution for new products. The study was conducted in an online game context.

We are excited to announce that the sales research group is hosting an Industrial Marketing and Sales Management Symposium in Helsinki in November, 2013. The papers presented at the symposium are also invited to be submitted to a Special Issue in Industrial Marketing Management (the leading international journal specializing in B2B marketing) that carries the same theme as the symposium: “From Strategy Frameworks to Value-in-use: Implementing Strategies and Theories of B2B Marketing and Sales Management”. The deadline for the submissions is on September 15th. Please find more details below.

Call for Papers

Industrial Marketing and Sales Management Symposium & Special Issue in Industrial Marketing Management: “From Strategy Frameworks to Value-in-use: Implementing Strategies and Theories of B2B Marketing and Sales Management”

6-7th of November, 2013, Helsinki, Finland

Symposium Organizer and Special Issue Guest Editor:
Prof. Petri Parvinen, Aalto University School of Business,
Department of Marketing, Finland

Prof. Kristian Möller, Aalto University School of Business,
Department of Marketing, Finland

With global competition and stagnant economies, an increasing share of B2B organizations face the challenge of developing more sophisticated marketing management models in search of competitive advantage beyond product and service innovation, sales and distribution strategy, multi-channel interfaces, price leadership, product management, operational efficiency, control over production capacity and supply chain optimization. B2B research in the areas of management, marketing and sales have developed numerous theories, concepts and mantras for doing the right things at the customer interface. Examples include e.g. strategic account management, service dominant logic, market- and customer-orientations, value-based selling and solution selling. There are at least two challenges that such management models have in common: they represent a top-down philosophy in managing the enterprise and they assume that the rest of the organization can adapt these strategies to environmental changes and react to changes in how the customer interface is dealt with. In reality, new management philosophies that seek to permeate and renew entire global organizations need to incorporate a two-way information- and decision-flow within the organization. Successful use of management models needs to deal with the fact that production and distribution adapt to change slowly. The sheer size of internationalized B2B organizations also poses a challenge as transformation projects last for years, and need to be hastened or adopt a continuous improvement approach.

The symposium and special issue concentrate on how to adopt an implementation orientation in transforming B2B organizations in making a customer management a competitive advantage. Methodologically diverse contributions concentrating on how to implement theoretically sound B2B sales, marketing and management models are welcomed. Relevant topics for the symposium and special issue include (but are not limited to):

• Methodologies on and theories of how to implement B2B marketing and sales management models
• Analyses with details and detailed analyses on what implementing the models means in practice at the level of customer activities
• Examples and analyses of successfully commercialized radical marketing or sales management innovations.
• Transformations between and into new business models
• Case examples of successful and unsuccessful B2B business model transformations
• Efficiency concerns in B2B transformations
• Conceptual, training and other tools for helping employees internalize the core ideas and practices in B2B transformations
• Application of lean management techniques to marketing organizations
• Adoption of company-wide transformative practices in e.g. process management, reward systems, information systems

The symposium will have presentations of peer-reviewed papers as well as invited keynote addresses by top scholars. The number of presentations will be limited and full papers presented at this conference will be considered for publication in a dedicated issue of Industrial Marketing Management.


Full-length paper submission according to the guidelines of Industrial Marketing Management by September 15th, 2013, to The papers will undergo a rapid-response review process by end-October and must not be submitted to a journal prior or during this time. Success in the review will not guarantee publication in the special issue, but in order to be accepted for special issue publication, papers need to be present at the symposium. Contact the chair about presentation options.

The sales research group has started a new research project in collaboration with the Department of Information and Service Management in Aalto and Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business. The new project is called “K2 – Experiences in digital purchasing” and it is about the influence of experiences, feelings, ambiance and trust in business conducted via digital channels. The project is funded by TEKES and belongs to the “strategic openings” that focus on future-oriented research. The project runs through fall 2012 to spring 2014.

You may find further information here.

The papers “The Tradeoff Between Online Community Activity and Consumption: Evidence from Online Poker” by Lindholm et al., and “Hedonic and Utilitarian Search for Electronic Word-of-Mouth” by Pöyry et al. have been accepted to the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) 2012, one of the longest-standing countinously running and highly prestigious scientific conferences.

Conference name: the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS)
Track: Internet and the Digital Marketing
Sub-track: Electronic marketing
Presentation time: January 4-7
Place: Grand Wailea, Maui

For more information, please visit: HICSS 2012

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