The convergence of mirroring and empathy: Communications training in business-to-business personal selling persuasion efforts

  • Peterson R
  • Limbu Y
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Abstract

Purpose: This study assessed the value of training in mirroring combined with training in empathy in a personal-selling setting when these two supplement training in more conventional areas. To a large extent, this investigation is exploratory. Previous attempts to probe into this topic do not appear in the literature. Methodology: Students in personal-selling classes acted as sales representatives in an attempt to sell a service (attendance at a sem- inar) to small retailers. One group was trained in mirroring and another in empathy. Yet another received instruction in both mirroring and empathy. Finally, control-group members received neither mirroring nor empathy training. Chi-square tests, t tests, Tukey k tests, and an analysis of variance were used. The hypothe- ses were that mirroring and empathy training, and especially mirroring combined with empathy, would perform better than no training in these areas. Findings: The analysis revealed that those who were trained in mirroring were more successful in obtaining intent to purchase than were control-group members. Likewise, trainees in empathy were more successful than those without training. Both of these experimental groups performed at levels that did not diverge sig- nificantly. Members of the group with instruction in both mirror- ing and empathy contributed more effectively than any other group.

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