The textbook defines perception as the process by which the individual selects, organizes, interprets, and responds to information. The Oxford dictionary defines perception as the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses; the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. Your perception is your reality, therefore statements such as, “the customer is always right,” hold true to a certain extent. What people perceive is what they believe, based on what they see, hear, and think. Perception affects decision making and the choices people make. This is why it is imperative not only for the salespeople of Great Northern American to understand how people form perceptions, but this is important for any person looking to build business relationships and loyal customers. Customer satisfaction is crucial to create business relationships and repeat customers. To be successful, salespeople must quickly identify opportunities and predict the changing needs and wants of customers.
“Recent advances in customer equity research have rekindled the importance of understanding how customers form perceptions of satisfaction and quality (Blattberg and Deighton, 1996).” It is also essential for Joe Salatino’s sales force to understand that the drivers of customer satisfaction may shift over time. Things happen gradually and people’s perception may change. Why do consumers choose certain products to purchase over others? According to Don Shapiro, President and Founder of First Concepts Consultants, Inc, “People say yes because they see a high perceived value in what is offered for sale.” If perceptions of value are high, the more likely the sale will be made. “Closing the sale is primarily about raising the customers’ perceptions of value as high as possible (Shapiro, 2012).” This is where things like subscribing to prospects’ local newspapers and researching things they value come into play. “The average experienced and trained sales person does not go far enough in developing these things with their prospects.
They do enough to be a good producer but lose sales they could have closed had they just done a bit more. They simply do not fully understand what is going on inside their prospects’ minds, everything that might affect the prospects’ decisions and what would increase the prospects’ perceptions of value the most (Shapiro, 2012).” Some statistics say the top ten percent of salespeople comprehend what goes on inside a perspective client’s mind, their understanding of how people form perceptions gives them a competitive advantage. Attribution is the method in which people use information to make conclusions about the causes of behavior or events. The ability to determine how people make attributions is a tremendous positive for the salespeople of Great Northern American. This element gives them an opportunity to take the information in order to convince perspective clients to make the purchase.
The 30-person sales force of the Great Northern American Telemarketing Company works on commission and bonuses, therefore I believe the expectancy theory would be most appropriate for Joe Salatino to apply. “In the inquiry of behavioral issues related to sales force compensation, expectancy theory has enjoyed substantial popularity. The expectancy theory suggests that both the desirability of the reward or compensation (referred to as valance) and an individual’s estimate of the likelihood of attaining that reward (referred to as expectancy) are important determinants of a salesperson’s behavior. In the context of sales compensation issues, expectancy theory suggests that any method of compensation should (1) tie reward to performance, and (2) strengthen the salesperson’s perceived connection between performance and the reward received (Chowdhury and Massad, 1997).” Motivational strategies are necessary for the expectancy theory, “motivation and performance are positively correlated.
An increase in the level of motivation should correspond to an increase in the amount of effort expended in selling tasks, which in turn should improve performance (Chowdhury and Massad, 1997).” According to the case study, the Great Northern American salesroom features all kinds of motivational devices such as rotating blues lights along with noise and a fast pace, all which create a perfect environment for the expectancy theory. Executing the expectancy theory can prove to be a challenging, yet purposeful task that goes beyond an annual review. Six implementations Joe Salatino could use to apply the expectancy theory include: 1) to make expectations clear, 2) provide continuous feedback, 3) use corrective actions privately, 4) believe in your employees, 5) use praise tactics publicly, and 6) make rewards achievable. According to David Burkus, the editor of LDRLB, employees without goals will be naturally aimless. Joe Salatino should provide his sales team with clear achievable goals and make sure there are measurable standards in place to evaluate their performance.
Giving immediate, continuous feedback allows an employee to know that their actions affect not just them, but the company as well. Joe should keep in mind that employees are motivated by setting goals and by receiving continuous feedback on where they stand relative to those goals. Recent research shows how rewarding it can be when employees are aware they are making progress. Most people are discouraged by negative feedback, especially if they feel it’s embarrassing. Therefore, the most adequate place to discuss an ongoing, performance-related issue or correcting a recent, specific error is in an office, with the door closed. Joe should also believe in his employees; the perception of a leaders’ trust is the key factor of revolutionary leadership. Make announcements of praise publicly, make everyone aware when an employee has made a particularly outstanding presentation, sale, or any other notable achievement.
Even though competition at Great Northern American is stiff for the sales force due to the internet users, it is still important to make bonuses and rewards achievable. Vary the basis for the awards, for example, top sales might be one category, but other categories can include top research or most diligent. Distinguish that numerous types of merits can motivate your employees to focus on additional areas of their performance. Other ways Mr. Salatino can help improve employees’ performance is by helping employees to experience the mastery of their work and then add challenges as their mastery starts to unfold. Leverage social persuasion by igniting faith in employees while simultaneously arranging situations for their success. Highlight realistic models of engagement.
Help employees develop endurance while reducing anxiety and depression so they know they can do what is necessary to produce a certain outcome. Self-efficacy refers to people’s belief in their ability to muster up what is necessary to exercise control over life’s challenges. “People with stronger self-efficacious beliefs tend to set higher personal goals and remain committed to those goals in the face of adversity. They also view challenges as tasks to be mastered and recover quickly from setbacks. Self-efficacy is particularly relevant to success in sales where adversities such as rejection, stress, and competition are unavoidable aspects of the profession. When salespeople hold strong self efficacious beliefs, they are better able to adjust to adversity and more likely to remain committed to assisting customers, making sales, and meeting quotas. In contrast, for salespeople who lack confidence in their professional abilities, these adversities increase their sense of helplessness and decrease their commitment toward goal achievement, often leading to withdrawal from clients, the organization, or the profession (Lewin and Sager, 2010).”
Joe Salatino can leverage an understanding of the value of self-efficacy to ensure he hires the most successful salespeople in a number of different ways. He needs to be sure not to confuse self-esteem, which is having a good view of yourself with self-efficacy, which is belief about your ability and capacity to accomplish a task or to deal with the challenges of life. By keeping these two things distinct, Joe can choose better qualified candidates for Great Northern American. There is a major variation in the degree to which salespeople perceive job conditions as stressful. Research has shown there are huge differences in the way individual salespeople respond to job stressors and view workloads. Self-efficacy is one of the determining factors. You can give identical sales situations to two people and it will be viewed very differently depending on the level of self-efficacy.
A salesperson with low self-efficacy may find the assignment intolerable and extremely stressful, whereas an individual with high self-efficacy may perceive it as practical and not stressful at all. Concluding that low self-efficacy can make people believe that tasks are harder than they actually are; and may view job expectations as contrasting and confusing. Individuals with higher levels of self-efficacy are more capable of dealing with higher job demands and possess the ability to view difficult situations as a challenge rather than seeing them as a threat. Social cognitive theory suggests that individuals form beliefs about what they can and cannot do. Those beliefs are used to set individual goals, to predict consequences of behaviors, and to initiate actions required for goal achievement. Self-efficacy is the central mechanism of self-regulation.
People’s beliefs in their efficacy influence the choices they make, their aspirations, how much effort they mobilize in a given endeavor, how long they persevere in the face of difficulties and setbacks, whether their thought patterns are self-hindering or self-aiding, the amount of stress they experience in coping with taxing environmental demands, and their vulnerability to depression. Sales research views self-efficacy as a critical variable that can influence salespeople’s perceptions and responses to challenges and negative situations on the job. People with higher self-efficacy believe in their ability to handle their work well and are more likely to become successful in their careers.
Self-efficacy enhances employees’ willingness to exert effort and master a challenge and thus, plays an important role in increasing work effectiveness, job satisfaction, and productivity. Because salespeople are monitored on their individual performance, experience high rates of rejection, and practice more autonomy, it is imperative for Mr. Salatino to select highly self-efficacious individuals.
In addition to searching for individuals with excellent communication skills, those that possess an upbeat attitude and are highly self-motivated, it would be to Great Northern American’s advantage for Joe to search for individuals who also possess conscientiousness and extraversion. Having the knowledge that self-efficacy is derived from mastery experiences, social persuasion, and stress resilience will also aid in selecting the most successful salespeople to help build an even more successful company now and in the years to come.
Chowdhury, J., & Massad, V.J. (1997). An eclectic paradigm of salesperson compensation: toward a comprehensive framework of the determinants of sales compensation modes. Journal of Marketing Management (10711988), 7(1), 61-80.
Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2012, November). Attribution Theory (Weiner) at Learning-Theories.com. Retrieved November 1st, 2012 from http://www.learning-theories.com/weiners-attribution-theory.html
Lewin, J. E., & Sager, J. K. (2010). The Influence of Personal Characteristics and Coping Strategies on Salespersons’ Turnover Intentions. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 30(4), 355-370.
Shapiro, D. Why people buy: conclusions from 30 years studying prospects and salespeople. July 30, 2012. Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from http://www.marketingexecutives.biz/why-people-buy-conclusions-30-years-studying-prospects-and-salespeople