Linking communication competence with call center agents' sales effectiveness

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13 Scopus citations


Scholars have conducted studies to uncover the knowledge, skills, and abilities that successful salespeople demonstrate on the job. However, much of this research focuses on face-to-face, and not mediated, sales environments. The present study addresses this gap in the literature by using an expert panel of judges who develop a 10-item scale that measures call center agents' sales communication competence. Then, the author uses sales conversion rates to stratify the total employee population (45 agents who work in a service plus sales-type account) into a smaller sample that consists of two groups: the top 75% quartile of agents (First-in-Metric) and the bottom 25% quartile of agents (Last-in-Metric). The First-in-Metric group included 8 agents and the Last-in-Metric group included 10 agents. The results of the study suggest that 5 of the 10 Sales Communication Instrument items distinguish the First-in-Metric from the Last-in-Metric agent groups. More precisely, First-in-Metric agents on the account: spoke at an appropriate rate; emphasized important points with changes in pitch and volume; acknowledged or paraphrased what the customer said; used short, affirmative words and sounds to indicate that he/she listened to the customer; and used language the customer could understand. The article closes with the implications the study has for applied communication scholars, as well as for practitioners who work in the global call center industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-425
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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