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Journal of Managerial Psychology 15,1 68
Received August 1998 Revised May 1999 Accepted June 1999
Communication apprehension and perceptions of salesperson performance: a multinational perspective Leyland F. Pitt, Pierre R. Berthon and Matthew J. Robson
Cardiff Business School, University of Wales, Cardiff, UK
Keywords Communication, Face-to-face communications, Sales, Salesforce, Performance Abstract While the effect of communication apprehension on a multitude of psychological and performance variables has been studied in many other disciplines, it has not been extensively examined by sales researchers. This article considers communication in the sales transaction from the perspective of communication apprehension, and investigates the role of communication apprehension as an indicator of a salesperson's performance. Using ordinal logistic regression, an attempt is made to predict a salesperson's performance based on the four contexts of communication apprehension, in a multicultural sample. The results show a small but significant effect of communication apprehension on the performance of salespersons, and some contexts of communication apprehension are found to be better predictors than others. The findings also indicate that the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension-24 scale is valid and reliable when used to establish international principles.
Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 15 No. 1, 2000, pp. 68-86. # MCB University Press, 0268-3946
Introduction One attribute of the successful salesperson would conceivably be an ability to ``talk'', or to have above average communication ability and willingness, since selling is a fundamental marketing communication activity. In fact, many believe the typical salesperson to be overly gifted with the gab, excessively glib and pushy, or, in the words of some of the respondents in Crawford and Lumpkin's (1983) research, ``It (selling) calls for deceit if the person wants to succeed''. While numerous lists of characteristics of sales winners have been drawn up, exceptional communication skills have been implied rather than specified. Communication is clearly central to most selling jobs ± selling involves a ``negotiated social process whereby people interact, explore their thoughts and feelings, exchange information, and perhaps evolve to new or novel positions and relationships'' (Bonoma et al., 1978). As far back as McMurry (1961), the effective sales personality was seen to be a ``habitual `wooer', who has a compulsive need to win and hold the affection of others''. An examination of the differences between male and female salespersons by industrial buyers (Swan et al., 1984) considered such attributes as an understanding of other people, friendliness, vigor and drive, knowing how to listen, inquisitiveness, confidence, self-reliance, preparation for sales presentations, understanding of The authors are grateful for the assistance of Johannes Fritz in obtaining the data.
buyers' problems, and a personalized presentation for each buyer. Mayer and Greenberg's (1964) classic elucidation of the traits of the successful salesperson identified only two attributes: empathy (the ability to feel as the customer does) and ego drive (a strong personal need to make the sale). An extensive study of the determinants of salesperson performance (a meta-analysis of 116 papers) by Churchill et al. (1985) concluded that the determinants of salesperson performance were ordered as follows: personal factors; skill; role variables; aptitude; motivation; and organizational/environmental factors. Although none of the aforementioned studies specifically identified communication as an important variable in the sales transaction, it is continually implied. Most major texts on selling (cf. Chonko et al., 1992; Churchill et al., 1990) have in fact devoted whole chapters to...
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