n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - Trusting relationships : how salespeople view the quality of relationships with friends and customers

Volume 17, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



Friendships between customers and salespeople are frequently unquestioned phenomena. The marketing and sales literature suggests that the relationships between salespeople and their customers often develop into close friendships. Moreover, salespeople are often encouraged to treat customers like their best friends. What if this exhortation rests on a false premise and customers are not the same as friends?

This study sheds light on the nature of friendship between salespeople and their customers. A survey was undertaken of the sales force of a large Swedish financial services company. Contrary to the literature, salespeople do not perceive the relationship quality with customers in the same way as they view relationships with friends. Furthermore, there are significant differences between how salespeople view relationship quality between "good" and ''bad'' customers. These findings have important managerial and research implications.

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