Winning and keeping customers:
A Decision Style view on key account selling in the electrical utility
The article introduces a study of customer - key account seller relationship
quality in personal customer contacts. The study, which was conducted
in utility companies in Sweden and Germany, shows that the theory of Decision
Styles is very well suitable to support systematic efforts on the side
of the utility key account seller, to improve the "chemistry",
i.e. the quality of the sales encounter when properly applied.
The theory of Decision Styles, on which the study builds, categorizes
individuals along the dimensions of "Information Use" and "Solution
Focus". From these dimensions, four main Decision Styles are defined.
Decision Styles are styles of information processing and decision behaviour
that people have. They also depend on the social situation and environmental
load that the person is experiencing. The theory suggests, that people
who have the same style communicate with much more ease than people that
meet with completely different modes of Decision Styles.
The article presented compares the Decision Styles of key account sales
people of energy utility companies and customer representatives with the
perceived sales encounter relationship. The study proved the hypothesis
that if the key account seller and the customer representative have the
same style, the relationship quality is perceived as good, while when
they feature different styles, the relationship quality suffers.
Supposing that a favourable key account seller - customer relationship
influences the satisfaction of the customer from the service that the
utility is providing, this result suggests that utility sales staff should
be systematically aware of how to accommodate to the Decision Style of
the customer representative. This can be achieved by including sales partnering
workshops with the theme of Decision Styles in the sales staff training
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