The Effect of Genetic Predispositions on Salespeople’s Canvassing and Closing: An Abstract

Christian Winter*, Nicolas A. Zacharias, Ad de Jong, Johannes Habel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The beginning and the end of the sales cycle, canvassing (i.e., approaching new customers) and closing (i.e., the process of trying to sign and finalize a deal), represent key moments of potential rejection. While these moments can induce significant stress and are prone to avoidance and procrastination (Bagozzi and Verbeke 2020; DeCarlo and Lam 2016; Ingram et al. 2017), they are crucial for a salesperson’s success (DeCarlo and Lam 2016; Sabnis et al. 2013). Some salespeople react with procrastination while others dive headfirst into these challenges (e.g., Bolander et al. 2020; DeCarlo and Lam 2016).

This study explores whether these different reactions relate to genetic predispositions. Drawing on differential susceptibility theory (DST) (e.g., Belsky and Pluess 2009; Homberg and Jagiellowicz 2021) and stress research (e.g., Nelson and Cooper 2007), our study proposes that carrying the Serotonin Transporter Gene S allele (SERT S) together with the psychological traits of sensation seeking and neuroticism interactively affects a salesperson’s propensity to canvass and close. Based on a rich sample of genetic information and survey data from 597 salespeople, the empirical results show that carrying SERT S has a positive relationship with canvassing and closing if sensation seeking is high. In contrast, this relationship is negative if neuroticism is high.

The findings of the study contribute to sales research, DST, and organizational stress research, and provide actionable implications for business practice. First, we contribute to the sparse literature explaining the genetic roots of variation in salesperson behavior (e.g., Verbeke et al. 2017) by showing how genetic variations interact with psychological traits to influence sales behavior. Second, we introduce a DST perspective to marketing and sales research, showing that the same genetic variation can have diametrical effects on performance-related behavior. Third, we add to DST and organizational stress research by providing a new angle on the occurrence of eustress and distress at the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelebrating the Past and Future of Marketing and Discovery with Social Impact: 2021 AMS Virtual Annual Conference and World Marketing Congress
EditorsJuliann Allen, Bruna Jochims, Shuang Wu
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9783030953454
ISBN (Electronic)9783030953461
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2021 Virtual AMS Annual Conference - AMS World Marketing Congress. AMSAC-WC 2021 - Virtual
Duration: 1 Jun 20214 Jun 2021


Conference2021 Virtual AMS Annual Conference - AMS World Marketing Congress. AMSAC-WC 2021
Internet address
SeriesDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science

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