The Role of the Human Reward System in the Development of Salesperson-Customer Relationships: An Exploration of Companies in Complex Industrial Markets in Central Europe

Kistler, Peter A. (2016) The Role of the Human Reward System in the Development of Salesperson-Customer Relationships: An Exploration of Companies in Complex Industrial Markets in Central Europe. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Previous studies have investigated the application of insights from social cognitive neuroscience to strategy, to leadership, to economy or to consumer marketing, for example. However, few, if any, studies have done so in relation to the field of salesperson-customer relationships. This is a significant omission because there is evidence that research from this nascent field has the potential to provide sales personnel with additional knowledge of how a salesperson-customer relationship can be established, developed and maintained. Based on a systematic literature review of B2C, B2B, high-technology and social cognitive neuroscience literature, this study introduces new constructs (social domains of experience) to explore sales relationships and to reflect on the role and the value of applying insights from social cognitive neuroscience to these relationships. These social domains of experience provided a platform to integrate well established salesperson-customer relationship concepts and recent research from social cognitive neuroscience. Therefore, this study offers new insights into factors that contribute to relationship development and maintenance, and it reinforces previous work in salesperson-customer relationships. The author adopts a critical realist position, utilising a cross-sectional, exploratory and qualitative approach. 18 senior executive salespeople and four high-level customers from the high-technology B2B sector in Central Europe were purposively sampled, and data was gathered via 22 in-depth face-to-face interviews and three structured participant observations. This provided detailed information on the development and maintenance of the focal relationships and enabled the five social domains of experience in this study to be identified, explored and elaborated. The outcomes of the study are reflected in the finalised conceptual framework, which opens up a window into the black box of the customer’s mind and highlights the significant role that the Human Reward System plays in the sales process. This study also provides an insight into the way in which sales personnel could influence aspects of the sales situation to create positive relationship outcomes. However, there are some limitations due to the idiosyncratic nature of the salesperson-customer relationship and also the techniques that neuroscientists use nowadays while they are performing their experiments on the sample selection. Despite these issues, the application of insights from social cognitive neuroscience could add value to existing salesperson-customer relationship concepts. This added value could in turn provide researchers with further tools to continue to push the boundaries and better understand salesperson-customer interactions and the customer’s unconscious mind during the decision-making process as a result. The findings of this study also offer sales personnel the chance to learn more about their role as relationship builders and potentially achieve important outcomes such as increased purchases and repurchases and positive word-of-mouth (WOM).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Salesperson-customer relationships; Human reward system; B2B sector; Central Europe
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5410 Marketing
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 11:24
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 08:13

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