Date of Defense

Spring 4-15-1993



First Advisor

Andrew A. Brogowicz, Marketing

Second Advisor

Edward J. Mayo, Marketing

Third Advisor

Richard E. Plank, Marketing


Adaptive selling is defined as the flexibility of salespersons to recognize their clients' or potential clients' needs, environment, and behaviors, in order to enhance the sales relationship, by altering their normal communication style to a behavior with which the customer feels comfortable. A literature review and an exploratory study were conducted to further understand the role of adaptive selling. The Social Styles Matrix was used as a reference to identify four classifications for social styles. The four categories were labeled as Driver, Analytical, Amiable, and Expressive. An in-depth understanding of this model allows the salesperson to adopt to fit specific selling situations as well as to learn ways to increase/decrease assertiveness and/or responsiveness dependent upon the situation. Research suggests that adaptive selling is a skill performed by highly successful salespeople. An exploratory research study consisting of personal interviews with fifteen sales representatives and sales managers indicated that their familiarity with and understanding of the term "adaptive selling" was low, as was familiarization with and comprehension of available style classification schemes. Although the sales training used by their firms to promote adaptability was minimal, most respondents believed that the role of adaptive selling will increase in their particular firm within the next five to ten years. More research is needed to determine the impact of adaptive selling. Further descriptive work at a broader level with larger and more representative samples needs to be undertaken to ascertain current levels of training and knowledge on adaptive selling behaviors.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only