The 30-Second-Sale: Snap impressions of a retail sales person influence consumers decision making



First impressions and judgements about other people may be formed very quickly and often unwittingly and may also be long-lasting. These judgments (in its content-filtered form called thin-slices) affect consumer decision making when interacting with a sales person. Thin-slice judgments are very accurate in predicting the outcome of human interactions.

The present study uses this thin-slice methodology to examine the influence of different sales people and different gestures on the sales outcome. As outcome measures, the parameter “intention to buy” was used. Real sales people in their daily real-world sales setting and actual customers from the target group were used for this study.

The experiment demonstrates that the rating of a sales situation is indicative of the intention to buy the product. The results show a positive correlation between the primary variables “interpersonal” and “task-oriented” and the secondary variable “intention to buy”. The interpersonal variable in particular, was a highly significant predictor of the outcome.

In addition, the rating on the “anxious” parameter — also a strong interpersonal signal — correlated highly with the outcome. The more cognitive, taskoriented variable demonstrated a weaker relationship to the stated intention to buy and barely reached statistical significance. This confirms previous results that sales encounters are a strongly emotional event.


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© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zürcher Hochschule für Angew. WissenschaftenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Aston UniversityUK

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