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The combined effect of customer perceptions about a salesperson's adaptive selling and selling orientation on customer trust in the salesperson: a contingency perspective

Guenzi, Paolo, De Luca, Luigi and Spiro, Rosanne 2016. The combined effect of customer perceptions about a salesperson's adaptive selling and selling orientation on customer trust in the salesperson: a contingency perspective. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing 31 (4) , pp. 553-564. 10.1108/JBIM-02-2015-0037

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Abstract

Purpose This study examines the impact of customer perceptions about a salesperson’s combined use of adaptive selling (AS) and selling orientation (SO) on customer trust in the salesperson. Based on insights from attribution theory, the contingency model of salespeople effectiveness, relationship marketing and market orientation literatures, we analyze the interplay between customer perceptions of salespeople’s AS and SO, and how this affects customer trust. Furthermore, adopting a contingency perspective, we investigate how two important situational variables (i.e. length of buyer-seller relationships and importance of purchase for the buyer) affect this relationship. Design/methodology/approach Our study is based on regression analysis with two- and three-way interactions, using survey data from 134 B2B buyers. Findings Our results indicate that the interplay between AS and SO is negatively related to trust, and that the above situation is attenuated in sales contexts characterized by high purchase importance or enduring buyer-seller relationships. Research limitations/implications Our empirical findings are based on firms from a single industry. Second, we adopt a cross-sectional research design. Third, the absence of measures of objective performance (e.g. sales) might be regarded as a limitation. Practical implications Our study suggests that salespeople willing to win customer trust should modify their approach across the relationship life-cycle Similarly, when purchase importance for the customer is low, salespeople interested in building relationships based on trust should combine AS and customer orientation. In contrast, when purchase importance is high, salespeople can only generate more trust by increasing customer orientation/reducing selling orientation. These findings might inspire sales trainers and sales managers in developing training experiences based on adaptation and customer orientation Originality/value Our research contributes in several ways to the literature. First, we investigated the simultaneous effect of AS and SO on performance (i.e. customer trust). Second, we complemented the analysis of the interaction between AS and SO by testing two important boundary conditions residing in the selling situation: purchase importance and relationship length. Third, our study is the first to examine the interplay among AS, SO and selling context outside using customer data from actual B2B sales interactions. Also, our study enhances knowledge of the effects of AS on sales outcomes by adding a long-term, relational outcome (i.e. trust) to previous work that tended to focus on short-term outcomes (i.e. sales revenues). Furthermore, by investigating perceived benefits from the point of view of customers rather than sellers, our findings add to previous studies of AS which relied too heavily, or exclusively, on the voice of the seller. Finally, our study shed further light on the role played by SO in affecting customer-based performance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0885-8624
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 April 2016
Date of Acceptance: 5 January 2016
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 10:26
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/89209

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