Presentation on theme: "Richard G. McFarland GSSI 2011 Conference-Milan “Advancing Theory in the Buyer ‐ Seller Interaction: Salesperson Credibility”"— Presentation transcript:
Richard G. McFarland GSSI 2011 Conference-Milan “Advancing Theory in the Buyer ‐ Seller Interaction: Salesperson Credibility”
Does this sound familiar? “My firm offers the most innovative products.” “My company is the leader in the industry.” “I am the most credible, knowledgeable and experienced salesperson you’ll ever meet.” “I work for the finest company and we have better solutions than anybody else.” “Trust me!”
If everyone is saying the same thing? How can buyers distinguish between salespeople, their companies or their products? In competitive markets, when salespeople are engaged in a battle of buzzwords, products end up being commoditized and looking very similar to potential customers. [This in turn puts downward pressure on prices.]
The current sales environment Firms have increasingly moved to relationship and consultative selling, and the importance and frequency of interactions between buyers and sellers has increased. Professional buyers are more knowledgeable about persuasion attempts (Kirmani and Zhu 2007) and are more skeptical about the frequent messages they hear from professional salespeople than in the past (Freese 2010). This skepticism and greater resistance to persuasion is likely to be partially due to the hundreds of persuasion attempts we are all subjected to everyday in our lives as consumers.
Implications? In competitive markets, the salesperson is often more important than either their product or their company. The old adage that salespeople have to sell themselves before they sell their products is truer today than ever. When companies, products and salespeople all sound alike, salespeople first have to establish credibility with buyers before they’ll believe what salespeople have to say. Understanding the buyer-seller interaction is critical for understanding sales performance.
Researching Salesperson Credibility Source credibility or legitimacy can be seen as a form of social power (e.g., French and Raven). Social power and social influence are separate constructs; one can only influence others if one first possess power (Payan and McFarland 2005). There are 3 types of seller influence tactics (SITs); rational, emotional, and coercive (McFarland, Challagalla and Shervani 2006). Each category of SITs operates through a separate influence mechanism (Kelman).
A Potential Theoretical Framework for Establishing Salesperson Credibility Influence Mechanism Used Types of Credibility Rational Arguments Emotional/Personal Coercive (rewards & sanctions) Sales Interaction Performance Likability of SalespersonAbility to Punish or RewardSalesperson Expertise
Related Credibility Research Topics The role of establishing credibility as the first stage in establishing trust. The relationship between sales firm credibility and salesperson credibility. Which is more important under different circumstances? Does one precede the other?