This paper aims to explore the usage of selling influence tactics across prospective customers with differing information-related needs.
The research study uses an exploratory critical incident technique (CIT) methodology to identify and examine salesperson influence tactics.
This study identifies and explores the use of salesperson influence tactics across three information-based conditions often encountered by salespeople (i.e. information seeking customers, informed customers with information inaccuracies and informed customers making sub-optimal decisions). Regardless of condition, salespeople readily used non-coercive information exchange tactics. Whereas, recommendations and ingratiation tactics were applied by more effective salespeople when interacting with informed customers with information deficiencies. Furthermore, salespeople report executing less effectively with prospects with inaccurate preexisting information and with prospects making flawed or sub-optimal decisions.
Findings illustrate the need for a renewed focus on salesperson influence tactics, the conditions under which they are effective, and how salespeople adapt their influence tactics to various situations. The exploratory nature of this study limits the generalizability of findings.
A framework of adaptive selling strategies is proposed to help tackle new challenges faced by B2B salespeople in today’s information intensive market. When interacting with more informed customers, pre-existing information is often inaccurate and incomplete. Thus, salespeople must assess and address these flaws and gaps and can adapt their influence strategies to do so effectively.
Industrial buyers today have virtually unlimited avenues to conduct extensive research and gain supplier information without the aid of interactions with salespeople. Thus, salespeople often enter sales interactions when their prospects have significantly more information than ever before. By examining salesperson influence techniques in selling situations that vary based on prospective customer preexisting knowledge, this research provides guidance on how selling may need to change in a more information intensive era.
The authors thank Saman Zehra for her help coding transcripts. They also thank the editor and the reviewers for their invaluable constructive insights.
Leach, M.P., Epler, R.T. and Wang, S. (2020), "Adapting sales influence tactics in the information intensive era", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-10-2019-0463Download as .RIS
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