Department of Marketing

Four Positive Effects of a Salesperson’s Regional Dialect in Personal Selling

This research analyzes how a salesperson’s regional dialect influences the efficacy of services selling. Four dialect effects are derived from theories of information processing, accent prestige theory, and social identity theory. In the first study, 92 industrial buyers, and in the second study, 126 customers evaluated salespersons after actual sales conversations. In contrast to conventional wisdom, both studies show that buyers do not generally devalue salespersons with a dialect. If speech is of high quality, a regional dialect improves satisfaction with the salesperson, rather than reducing it. Favorable sound qualities and prestigious stereotypical associations with the dialect also raise satisfaction with the salesperson. Moreover, the fit between salesperson and buyer dialects enhances satisfaction with the company and fosters purchase intention. In order to increase their persuasiveness, salespersons should be aware of the four dialect effects. Companies would also benefit from training salespersons to improve their speech quality, rather than concealing their dialect. If possible, salespersons should deliberately modify their way of speaking in all phases of the service-selling process.

Mai, R.; Hoffmann, S. (2011). Four Positive Effects of a Salesperson’s Regional Dialect in Personal Selling, Journal of Service Research, 14 (4), 423-437.