Antecedents and Consequences of Salesperson Perceptual (In)accuracy in Customer Relationships
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Perceptual accuracy, or lack thereof, often influences a salesperson’s effectiveness in delivering value to customers, yet prior research has generally assumed that salespeople can accurately evaluate customer relationship quality. Using survey and performance data from salesperson-customer dyads within a global industrial goods supplier, I demonstrate the vital role of salesperson perceptual accuracy in achieving relationship marketing effectiveness. Surprisingly, salesperson perceptual accuracy does not bring benefits from all customers; rather, it provides a curvilinear improvement for both customer profitability and future purchase intention. Salesperson perceptual inaccuracy always reduces customer profitability, but only hurts future purchase intentions when perceptions are overblown. The effects of salesperson perceptual (in)accuracy depend on the relationship phase. To explain salesperson perceptual inaccuracy, I demonstrate that relationship quality antecedents (i.e., customer orientation, self-efficacy) can bias salesperson perception. Finally, a behavior-based control system is shown to be a managerial solution to attenuate salesperson perceptual inaccuracy.