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Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management


Businesses face a challenge recruiting and maintaining a high-quality salesforce. Increasingly, recruiting focus for entry-level sales positions has turned to university business students and sales centers. Unfortunately, research shows that most students have persistent negative misconceptions about professional sales careers and there is little research examining comprehensive and structured decision-making frameworks used by students when evaluating a sales career. This paper develops and tests an integrative framework that maps students’ decision-making process to their intention to pursue a sales career. Specifically, we examine how perceived sales knowledge, perceptions of selling ethics, perceptions of salespeople, and perceptions of the selling profession impact their intent to pursue a sales career both pre- and post-exposure to sales professionals in the classroom. Utilizing structural equation modeling, we investigate the interactive relationships of these four areas (sales knowledge, selling ethics, salespeople, and the selling profession) on intent to pursue. Results show empirical evidence of how sales professionals affect the structural orientation of students’ intent to pursue a sales career and constructs hypothesized to impact this intent after only one interaction. The findings offer an opportunity for how businesses may increase student interest in both sales and their organization.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management on 2 September 2020, available online: