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Interpersonal trust in commercial relationships: Antecedents and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson

Paolo Guenzi (Department of Management, Bocconi University and SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan, Italy)
Laurent Georges (IUT TC Tarbes, University of Toulouse III, Toulouse, France)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 16 February 2010




This paper seeks to explore drivers and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson in the financial services industry. Its theoretical foundations are based on literature on customers' interpersonal relationships with salespeople and front‐line employees, as well as on literature in the area of customer trust.


A conceptual model, specifying a set of hypotheses linking a salesperson's behaviours to customer trust, and the latter to behavioural loyalty intentions, was tested using partial least squares (PLS) on a sample of 150 customers in the Italian banking industry. Multiple models were compared in order to evaluate the mediating role of customer trust.


The results of the empirical study show that both salesperson's customer orientation and expertise positively influence customer trust in the salesperson. Conversely, selling orientation has a negative impact on it. Moreover, a salesperson's likeability does not influence customer trust. Finally, trust in the salesperson positively influences a customer's intentions to re‐buy/cross‐buy and to recommend, while it decreases a customer's intention to switch to competitors.

Research limitations/implications

The study suggests that different relational antecedents may have different impacts on different relational mediators and outcomes. Since the mechanisms of interpersonal relationship formation and development are multifaceted, to understand fully the complexity of relational phenomena researchers should develop and test models incorporating multiple relational antecedents and outcomes.

Practical implications

The study provides sales managers with some evidence of the behaviours that salespeople should adopt to influence successfully the creation of long‐term relationships, especially in the context of “credence” services. The findings suggest that the optimal behaviours of salespeople may vary, depending on the ultimate goal of the sellers' relational strategy. The authors suggest drivers that managers can leverage to stimulate salespeople to perform the desired behaviours.


The model tested in the empirical study highlights the mediating role of customer trust and incorporates a broad set of drivers and consequences of interpersonal trust. As such, it improves knowledge of trust‐building processes in the context of credence services, where trust and interpersonal relationships are very relevant.



Guenzi, P. and Georges, L. (2010), "Interpersonal trust in commercial relationships: Antecedents and consequences of customer trust in the salesperson", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 44 No. 1/2, pp. 114-138.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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