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Abstract

A cognitive psychology based approach is used to investigate the highly skilled or expert salesperson. The study utilized verbal protocol analysis to identify differences in the decision processes of expert and less-skilled salespeople as they progressed through a difficult selling situation. The results of this study indicate that experts in sales share several similarities with experts in such diverse fields as chess, medicine, physics, and teaching. For example, expert salespeople were shown to reach better decisions in a faster and more confident manner than their less-skilled contemporaries. Further, in resolving current problems, experts were shown to be more likely to utilize their memory of previous selling situations, as well as to employ different strategies for customer interactions than less-skilled salespeople. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.