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Fake It Until You Make It? Negative Effects of Status Consumption in Personal Selling Roles Melissa Clark Nieves, Ph.D. Student Florida State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Fake It Until You Make It? Negative Effects of Status Consumption in Personal Selling Roles Melissa Clark Nieves, Ph.D. Student Florida State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fake It Until You Make It? Negative Effects of Status Consumption in Personal Selling Roles Melissa Clark Nieves, Ph.D. Student Florida State University

2 Status Display Any display (visible or verbal) of high priced items.

3 Salespeople Likely to Display Status Salespeople have a high need to achieve. – Soyer, Rovenpor, and Kopelman 1999 Achievement seekers are more likely than non-achievement seekers to engage in status consumption. – Sedikides, Constantine, Gregg, Cisek, and Hart 2007; Vazire, Naumann, Rentfrow, and Gosling 2008

4 Status Display Sends a Message A communicator’s appearance sends a message above and beyond verbal information relayed to the recipient. – Rafaelli and Pratt 1993

5 Literature: Success People make presumptions about others based upon their possessions. Belk, Bahn, and Mayer 1982; Burroughs, Drews, and Hallman 1991; Richins 1994 People tend to gauge the success of others by evaluating their belongings. Richins 1994 Success is often symbolized by relatively expensive, high priced objects. Fournier and Richins 1991 Information delivered by people of high- status is more likely to be persuasive than those of low status. Petty and Wegener 1998; Pittam 1990 Status display by the salesperson might communicate success to the customer, which may lead to increased purchases by the customer.

6 Literature: Similarity Everything else being equal, customers would rather do business with salespeople whom they perceive as similar to themselves. Wiener and Mowen 1986 Satisfaction with the relationship is influenced by similarity. Byrne 1969; Tan 1981 Attitude similarity is thought of as an indicator of believing the other party has your best interest at heart. Johnson and Johnson 1972 A customer who senses competitive intentions of the salesperson believes the salesperson intends to take from the relationship in a self- serving manner. Crosby, Evans, and Cowles 1990 By displaying a high status, a salesperson may be placing themselves at a disadvantage and decreasing the likelihood of customer purchase intent.

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8 Research Questions How is salesperson high status display perceived by customers? How should sales reps position their status in relation to customer? Under what conditions might different levels of status display be preferable? Cultural/International differences?

9 Research Questions Status of Sales Rep Status of Customer

10 Research Questions = Status of Sales Rep Status of Customer

11 Research Questions Status of Sales Rep Status of Customer

12 Method Qualitative Grounded Theory Focus Groups In-depth Interviews

13 Sample N=20 Ages Many industries – International Agriculture – Medical/Health – Construction – Law – Government

14 Position in Organization

15 Hispanic Representation Puerto Rico Costa Rica Uruguay Mexico Spain Cuba

16 Procedure 3 coders using excel - line by line Cross-checked Combine categories Similar themes NVivo also used

17 Questions asked How should a sales rep position their status in relation to you? What are your thoughts regarding sales reps with high status display? Do you notice any differences in Hispanics regarding status display in sales settings?

18 Findings Generally, customers prefer a salesperson with status display similar to their own. “relatable” “not above or below” “sweet spot in the middle”

19 Above Hispanic culture tends to prefer sales reps with high status display. “ [High status display] is a must in business with Spanish people. You have to prove that you are somebody or nobody will do business with you.” “Success breeds success, positivity [breeds] positivity. The power of The Secret.”

20 Above Study shows that Hispanics spend 23% more on visible goods than Whites with comparable permanent income, controlling for time and demographics. – Kerwin Kofi Charles, Erik Hurst, and Nikolai Roussanov “Conspicuous Consumption and Race”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 2009

21 Below Professional degree – Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, Veterinarian “Better not try to be equal to me.” “…can’t act like they’re on the same level…” “His boss specifically tells him not to take the Audi on calls.” (Respondent’s husband sells medical devices to surgeons and has 2 cars: an Audi and a Jeep) “Sales reps aren’t saving peoples’ lives. They don’t deserve to make same amount of money.” “I’m taking a pay cut and they are making even more money.”

22 Negative Effects Getting a deal is the most important factor in purchase intent – Every single interviewee mentioned economic downturn as a major concern Salespeople who display status can be perceived as NOT giving a good deal.

23 Quotes “All they care about is themselves and their commission. They aren’t going to give me the lowest price because it will cut into their commissions. They will screw me to get their money.” “I don’t wear my [engagement] ring on purpose because I don’t want [clients] to think I’m [overcharging] them on the price, even though I have no control over prices here.” “If their company can pay them enough to buy all those nice things then they are charging too much.” “…makes me assume they come from money or married in to money and don’t need this job. They aren’t going to work very hard to get me the best deal.”

24 High salesperson status = higher price When sellers have higher status than buyer, negotiated prices tend to be higher than when sellers have lower status than buyer – Ball, Eckel, Grossman, Zame, 2001

25 Different Takes “They don’t need my business” “I remember my dad would never take his Ferrari on sales calls [because] he didn’t want [customers] to think ‘Wow, he obviously doesn’t need the money.’” “I feel sorry for [a rep who is far below my economic status] – he has a new baby…I try to give him whatever orders I can.”

26 Conclusions Customer perceives higher economic status display by the sales rep = higher price to the customer. Professional degrees prefer sales reps with lower status than their own. Hispanics prefer sales reps with a higher status.

27 Future Research Hispanic quotes mechanism Delve into professional degree Explore negotiation situations/power over price Economic cycles

28 Comments? Melissa Clark Nieves, Florida State University

29 Grazie!!!


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