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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

What Drives Sales Success? A Closer Look into Salespeople’s Genetic Make-Up and Personality

Published: May 25, 2021


Christian Winter, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg; Nicolas Zacharias, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg; Ad de Jong, Copenhagen Business School; Johannes Habel, University of Houston


Canvassing and closing – the beginning and the end of the sales cycle – are moments of potential rejection and involve significant amounts of stress for salespeople. Some salespeople react with procrastination and absenteeism, while others do not. Drawing on differential susceptibility theory and stress research, this study investigates which combinations of carrying the Serotonin Transporter Gene S allele (SERT S) and the psychological traits of sensation seeking and neuroticism are beneficial in sales contexts. Based on a rich sample of genetic information and survey data from 594 salespeople, the empirical results confirm the hypotheses that carrying SERT S only yields positive effects on canvassing and closing if sensation seeking is high. If neuroticism is high, the effect of carrying SERT S is negative. Thereby, the study contributes to psychological stress research and provides actionable implications for sales managers and HR professionals.