Purpose– In this study, active empathetic listening is purposed as being an antecedent to a salesperson's communication skill, ability to maintain quality relationships and build trust. The study proposes that communication skill, relationship quality and trust all moderate the relationship between AEL and sales performance. Design/methodology/approach– Survey research using salespersons was conducted; structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses of the model. Findings– The findings confirmed that AEL was positively related to salespersons' communication skills, relationship quality and trust. The proposed moderators of communication and trust received support when predicting sales performance. Research limitations/implications– This was the first empirical study to examine the role of AEL in a relationship selling model. AEL was found to directly affect levels of trust, relationship quality and overall communication skills of salespeople. More research on the role of AEL in the relationship selling process should be investigated. Practical implications– Managers that focus on long-term relationships in a dyadic buyer-seller relationship may benefit most from this study. A scale that can be used to measure existing levels of AEL in the sales force is included. AEL may better enable salespeople to develop long-term relationships with their customers. Originality/value– This study examines a form of listening (AEL) that is proposed to be superior to other forms of listening within the personal selling context. Presently little research on the importance of listening and its impact on relationship building exists. This is the first study to test AEL as an antecedent to relationship skills of salespeople.
Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 28, 2013
Keywords: Listening; Salespeople; Communication; Relationships; Trust; Performance; Employee behavior; Buyer‐seller relationships