Brian Murtha's paper (with Kevin Chase), “Selling to Barricaded Buyers,” has been accepted at the Journal of Marketing. In business-to-government and business-to-business transactions, suppliers often have limited access to buyers during the buying process. The authors term these buyers “barricaded buyers.”
Despite the prevalence of barricaded buyers in practice, research has remained largely silent on the topic. Therefore, the authors combine insights from eight organizational purchasing case studies and individual interviews with signaling theory to advance a conceptual framework that highlights ways a supplier can increase its competitiveness (and, correspondingly, its selection likelihood) when selling to barricaded buyers. The framework reflects three distinct ways in which signaling occurs or influences the barricaded buying process: the seller signals to buyers (e.g., through novel solutions, explicit responding), the seller signals to competing sellers (e.g., through peacocking), and the buyer signals to sellers whose meaning is jammed (e.g., through supplier-specific capabilities and language). The framework invokes barricade restrictiveness as an important contingency variable that lends nuance to when the signaling activities are most likely to affect suppliers’ competitiveness.