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Linking effective listening with salesperson performance: An exploratory investigation

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Notes that researchers and practitioners recognize that listening is a crucial basic skill on a par with reading, writing, and speaking. Although effective listening is important in almost every profession, it seems particularly significant in business-to-business selling. Effective listening skills assist the salesperson in adapting to the prospect and to different sales situations. Successful application of these skills contributes to the added value of the personal selling exchange. Presents an initial attempt to explore the relationship between effective listening, adaptive selling behaviors and salesperson performance. In the past, very little has been done to measure the construct of effective salesperson listening and correlate it with key dimensions (adaptive selling and sales performance). Hopes to contribute to discovering a means of measuring the listening phenomena in a sales environment. The subjects for the study were salespeople representing a Fortune 100 international electronics manufacturer. The subjects were participating in a company-sponsored training program at the time of the survey. Results of the study indicate support for a positive relationship between effective listening and adaptive selling, performance and job satisfaction.
... Barriers to effective listening include noisy and distracting environments, monotone speakers, a disconnected and disinterested audience, multi-person conversations and even managers' feelings of power which have all been linked to poor outcomes (Alavasha et al., 2019;Carney, 2021;Golen, 1990;Tost et al., 2012). Recognizing the importance of effective listening, organizations such as Pfizer, Ford, and IBM have introduced listening training programs for all their personnel (Shepherd et al., 1997). Noticeably absent in the extant literature are empirical tests and comparisons of listening techniques that people can employ to improve their comprehension and empathy of others when they wish to listen carefully but find it difficult to do so. ...
... Beginning with Lee's (1952) seminal work on listening and salesmanship, listening research in the marketing literature has focused primarily on the one-on-one conversations between salespeople and customers. Several other research streams have emerged: the relationship between a salesperson's empathic listening, customer satisfaction, and sales performance (Aggarwal et al., 2005;Castleberry & Shepherd, 1993Comer & Drollinger, 1999;Drollinger & Comer, 2013;Itani et al., 2019;Pilling & Eroglu, 1994;Shepherd et al., 1997); taxonomies and other applications of listening in marketing (Berry, 1997;Jackson & Hisrich, 1996); a range of factors that affect and explain effective listening and rapportbuilding in conversation (Nickels et al., 1983;Pryor et al., 2013;Román et al., 2005); teaching listening strategies as a skill (Cost et al., 1992;Kluger & Malloy, 2019;Peterson, 2007;Smeltzer & Watson, 1985); theoretical approaches and explanations of the listening and encoding process (Anand et al., 1988;Montgomery & Rao, 2009;Shapiro & Spence, 2002;Unnava et al., 1996); and the limitations of listening (Leonard, 2002). Researchers have also underscored the importance of "active listening" techniques (Bodie, 2011;Drollinger et al., 2006); adaptive selling (Spiro & Weitz, 1990); and listening across cultures (Imhof & Janusik, 2006). ...
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Listening is a fundamental element of good marketing. Marketing relies on clear, effective, interactive communication: between the firm and customers, between the firm and suppliers, and within the firm among employees. While prior research has emphasized the crucial importance of good listening skills to individual and organizational performance, only a few listening techniques have been assessed empirically, particularly under difficult listening circumstances. This paper fills that gap in the literature by building on prior conceptual and exploratory work on listening, identifying 3 listening techniques, and empirically testing the effectiveness of the techniques using a multinational sample. Results show that listening techniques improve recall, but the most effective technique depends on the countries' level of individualism.
... Barriers to effective listening include noisy and distracting environments, monotone speakers, a disconnected and disinterested audience, multi-person conversations and even managers' feelings of power which have all been linked to poor outcomes (Alavasha et al., 2019;Carney, 2021;Golen, 1990;Tost et al., 2012). Recognizing the importance of effective listening, organizations such as Pfizer, Ford, and IBM have introduced listening training programs for all their personnel (Shepherd et al., 1997). Noticeably absent in the extant literature are empirical tests and comparisons of listening techniques that people can employ to improve their comprehension and empathy of others when they wish to listen carefully but find it difficult to do so. ...
... Beginning with Lee's (1952) seminal work on listening and salesmanship, listening research in the marketing literature has focused primarily on the one-on-one conversations between salespeople and customers. Several other research streams have emerged: the relationship between a salesperson's empathic listening, customer satisfaction, and sales performance (Aggarwal et al., 2005;Castleberry & Shepherd, 1993Comer & Drollinger, 1999;Drollinger & Comer, 2013;Itani et al., 2019;Pilling & Eroglu, 1994;Shepherd et al., 1997); taxonomies and other applications of listening in marketing (Berry, 1997;Jackson & Hisrich, 1996); a range of factors that affect and explain effective listening and rapportbuilding in conversation (Nickels et al., 1983;Pryor et al., 2013;Román et al., 2005); teaching listening strategies as a skill (Cost et al., 1992;Kluger & Malloy, 2019;Peterson, 2007;Smeltzer & Watson, 1985); theoretical approaches and explanations of the listening and encoding process (Anand et al., 1988;Montgomery & Rao, 2009;Shapiro & Spence, 2002;Unnava et al., 1996); and the limitations of listening (Leonard, 2002). Researchers have also underscored the importance of "active listening" techniques (Bodie, 2011;Drollinger et al., 2006); adaptive selling (Spiro & Weitz, 1990); and listening across cultures (Imhof & Janusik, 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
Listening is a fundamental element of good marketing. Marketing relies on clear, effective, interactive communication: between the firm and customers, between the firm and suppliers, and within the firm among employees. While prior research has emphasized the crucial importance of good listening skills to individual and organizational performance, only a few listening techniques have been assessed empirically, particularly under difficult listening circumstances. This paper fills that gap in the literature by building on prior conceptual and exploratory work on listening, identifying 3 listening techniques, and empirically testing the effectiveness of the techniques using a multinational sample. Results show that listening techniques improve recall, but the most effective technique depends on the countries’ level of individualism.
... An expanded number of past research has developed and tested frameworks of salesperson performance and effectiveness (e.g. Walker et al., 1977;Weitz et al., 1986;Verbeke et al., 2011;Yang and Wu, 2014;Johlke, 2006;Shepherd et al. 1997;Galber et al., 2019). A recent qualitative study has provided a theoretical conceptualization of sales communication competence in B2B solution selling based on salespeople and sales communication educators opinions (Koponen et al., 2019). ...
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This study explores important skills of an effective salesperson as well as their impacts in terms of performance from both sales managers and sales representatives perspectives. An exploratory research was conducted on a total of 58 car sales professionals that comprise 30 sales managers and 28 salespersons. A thematic analysis of interviews content indicates existence of both similarities and differences in skills perceptions among the two groups of sales professionals. Salespeople reveal that to be effective they should have communication and listening skills, knowledge possession, sales presentation skills, flexibility and adaptability, empathy, cooperative skills, honest and ethical behavior, and time management skills. Sales managers, on the other hand, highlighted the importance of two additional skills, namely the follow-up and technology skills. From the skills gap, the study suggests implications for academicians and practitioners.
... From an employee perspective, the relationship between the listening skill and job performance has been looked at a conceptual level (Shepherd, Castleberry, & Ridnour, 1997;Castlesberry & Shepherd, 1993). In Barber and Tietje (2006), listening was rated as the second most important skill as rated by executives and sales managers in the domain of industrial sales. ...
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An evidence-based research to find out which skills and abilities will allow knowledge workers to thrive in the age of automation.
... AD and CO consist of a wide range of behaviors and skills that require questioning skills (e.g., Eckert, 2006;Saxe & Weitz, 1982;Weitz et al., 1986). The core principle of CO is identifying and understanding customer needs (Homburg et al., 2011a), and the underlying principle of AD is matching selling styles and tactics to best fit individualized customer situations (Román & Iacobucci, 2010); hence, strong questioning skills are clearly related to these concepts (e.g., Shepherd et al. 1997;Shoemaker & Johlke, 2002). CO and AD provide strategic goals for students; that is, meeting customer needs and adapting to customer context, respectively. ...
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