Purpose: Vendors’ social cues – physical or behavioural hints – have an impact on the professional buyer. However, little is known about that impact. The purpose of this paper is to place knowledge about the impact of social cues that other disciplines acquired in the context of business-to-business (B2B) marketing to contribute constructively to the research agenda.
Design/methodology/approach: By integrating findings on the processing of social cues and the behavioural response from the disciplines of neuroscience, biology and psychology (specifically the behavioural inhibition system [BIS]/behavioural activation system [BAS]-theory), this paper aims to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the automatic evaluation of vendors by professional buyers. Findings: Social cues are likely to be of substantial value in the (first) encounter between buyer and seller. Positively evaluated social cues create an approach-motivated behavioural intention, whereas negatively evaluated ones create avoidance. This process is probably predominantly mediated by trust and moderated by personality and contextual factors.
Research limitations/implications: This paper stimulates research about the impact of social cues in a B2B context. While such knowledge would add practical value, this paper also explores possibilities for managers to use neuroscientific techniques to assess and train sales agents.
Originality/value: The impact of social cues is hardly covered in the B2B marketing literature, but they have an important impact on B2B decision-making. The conceptual framework combines the BIS/BAS theory (approach/avoidance) with the SOR-model (stimulus-organism-response), which is unique to the B2B marketing field.