How do we view salespeople? Are they overly excited individuals selling us products that may or may not work for a quick buck or career oriented people who simply enjoy a challenge? How much does this perception differ around the globe? An article recently published in Journal of Marketing Education entitled “A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Stereotype for Salespeople: Professionalizing the Profession” explores these questions and more.
The purpose of this research is to investigate the image of salespeople and of the selling function as perceived by business students across cultures. Of the several empirical investigations that exist in the sales literature, most are based on a single-country sample. This study extends previous knowledge on single-country perception of salespeople by conducting a quantitative survey of business students in Cameroon, France, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. Substantial differences and similarities are found across countries on salesperson’s image, feelings in the presence of a salesperson, as well as the perception of a career in sales. They all appear to be influenced by cultural values. Several practical strategic implications are suggested, including examining cultural values to identify the origin of negative images, careful gatekeeping to promote professional positions, and supporting mobility of both students and faculty. Finally, limitations to the findings are presented with suggested future research directions.
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