Re-designing adaptive selling strategies: the role of different types of shopping companions
This paper explores the influence of shopping companions in retail sales conversations and the necessity of designing more comprehensive sales training programs. In particular, the characteristics and behaviors of shopping companions and their subsequent effects on accompanied shoppers, the salesperson and the sales conversation are examined. Shopping companions have not played a role in adaptive selling research and most practical trainings for salespeople so far, although they can significantly affect shopper behavior and decision-making, and require distinct approaches by salespeople. Systematizing in-depth interviews with salespeople and qualitative content analysis reveal a variety of different character traits and behaviors of shopping companions that can lead to positive and negative outcomes from a salesperson’s perspective. The interactions that take place between customers and salespeople are the core element of customer-oriented service in retailing. When a holistic customer-oriented service is part of their value proposition, retailers should consider re-designing training programs for salespeople and include the influence of shopping companions. In doing so, salespeople’s customer orientation can be increased by augmenting their capabilities and enabling them to make use of adaptive selling techniques specifically designed for co-shopping situations.