How Influential is the Auditor? Determinants of Sales Effectiveness in Energy Conservation Programs

Brown, M. A., Berry, L. G., White, D. L. & Trumble, D. (1988). How influential is the auditor? Determinants of sales effectiveness in energy conservation programs. Energy Systems and Policy, 12, 135-149.
This paper examines the determinants of auditor effectiveness in selling energy conservation to homeowners and reports the results of an analysis of the effectiveness of the energy auditors employed by the Florida Power and Light Company. These auditors market five conservation incentive programs to residential customers. The analysis shows that closure rates (i.e., number of inventive program participants per 100 audits) vary widely across auditors and are highly dependent upon the nature of the households and homes being audited. After household effects are removed, the additional variation explained by auditor characteristics averages about 20%. Among all the auditor characteristics examined, extroversion is the best predictor of customer response. Those auditors rated as extroverted by their supervisors have customer participation rates 17% higher than the rates for introverted auditors. A standard sales aptitude test given to auditors does not distinguish effective from ineffective auditors. Similarly, high-performing auditors are as likely to have engineering as business educations.
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