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Tell me more: how salespeople encourage customer disclosure

Jarkko Niemi (Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland)
Ellen Bolman Pullins (University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 8 July 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




This paper aims to explore salesperson–customer interactions to identify actual behaviors that result in enhanced customer disclosure and classify them as disclosure tactics, and to explore whether certain tactics are more likely to lead to salesperson–customer relationship advancement.


This qualitative research uses conversation analysis to identify salesperson disclosure tactics that result in customer disclosure, using 12 video-recordings of authentic business-to-business initial sales meetings between a salesperson and customer.


Findings showed four disclosure tactics that salespeople use to get customers to disclose information: embedded expertise claims, tailored references, demonstrations of preparation and customer orientation and benevolence. These tactics appear more often and are executed differently in sales meetings that successfully advance.


The research addresses an unexplored area of specific salesperson behaviors and their connection to customer disclosure and relationship advancement in the exploration phase. Additionally, this fills a gap that cannot be addressed with traditional survey or interview data and brings conversation analysis to this particular area.



The authors wish to thank both the companies that participated in the Mania research project and Business Finland for supporting this research. We also thank Paul Drew for valuable discussions during the initial stages of the study.


Niemi, J. and Pullins, E.B. (2021), "Tell me more: how salespeople encourage customer disclosure", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 717-728.



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