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Salesperson motivational traits and linguistic style as markers of sales success

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Treen, Emily
This dissertation explores the association between salesperson motivational traits, linguistic styles, and sales outcomes. Conceptually, in paper 1, I apply a previously overlooked lens of goal orientation theory to personal selling. The conceptual development culminates with a novel understanding of how salespeople can experience performance inefficiencies due to perceived situational threats. This contributes to extant research by explicating predicted detriments to sales performance in team-based sales environments. Paper 2 investigates the relationship between two fundamental traits of effective salespeople—empathy and ego-drive—and job satisfaction. I infer and measure these psychological traits using automated text-analysis of salespeople's written company reviews. The findings show that B2B salespeople who are high in empathy and low in ego-drive tend to be most satisfied in their sales jobs. High ego-drive, whether combined with high or low empathy is associated with low job satisfaction. For personal selling scholars and sales managers, this research reinforces the need for empathetic salespeople and points to the limitations of hiring ego-driven salespeople. Paper 3 employs automated text-analysis to explore whether the pronouns salespeople use when writing about their work environment differ by degree of job satisfaction. When reflecting on their sales jobs, salespeople who are satisfied with their jobs tend to use a high frequency of "I", while salespeople who are less satisfied with their jobs tend to use a high frequency of "they". These findings are pertinent for sales managers to infer job satisfaction through non-self-reported data.
59 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Pitt, Leyland
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