Title

The importance of customer’s perception of salesperson’s empathy in selling

Department

Marketing and Professional Sales

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2-2018

Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of salesperson empathy, both cognitive and affective, on business-to-business buyer-salesperson relational outcomes. Specifically, the direct impact of empathy is examined in relation to both the salesperson’s communication ability and customer-oriented behavior. The impact of empathy is then examined as a direct and indirect influencer of satisfaction with the salesperson and commitment to the salesperson. Design/methodology/approach To attain the objective of this research, an empirical study was conducted using 248 business-to-business purchasing agents. Findings The study found that cognitive empathy and affective empathy had a positive relationship with customer-oriented behaviors, information communication ability and commitment to the salesperson. However, only cognitive empathy was found to have a positive relationship with customer’s satisfaction with the salesperson. Originality/value Although empathy has found to have a positive effect on sales, sales research has yet to provide conclusive evidence on whether cognitive empathy and affective empathy would have a similar effect on a salesperson-customer relationship. This study provides evidence that not all facets of empathy influence relational outcomes the same way and differ in magnitude. This provides strong support for the importance of studying the impact of empathy from a faceted viewpoint rather than a uni-dimensional perspective when examining the influence on buyer-seller relational outcomes.

Journal

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

Journal ISSN

0885-8624

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-03-2017-0073

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