Purpose: This paper aims to develop and test a method of automating, for online retailers, the practice of adaptive selling, which is typically used by salespeople in face-to-face interactions. This method customizes persuasive messages for individual customers as they navigate a retailer’s website. Design/methodology/approach: This paper demonstrates a method for the online implementation of automated adaptive selling using sales influence tactics. Automated adaptive selling is compared to nonadaptive selling in three e-commerce field studies. Findings: The results reveal that adaptive selling is more effective than nonadaptive selling. The click-through rates increased significantly when adaptive selling was used. Research limitations/implications: This paper highlights the effectiveness of existing theories concerning adaptive human-to-human selling and their utility to online selling. The authors demonstrate the added value of adaptive selling in e-commerce, thereby opening up a novel area of research into adaptive selling online. While the paper focuses on the adjustment of sales influence tactics, other factors could be investigated for adjustment in future research (e.g. prices). Practical implications: The methods, described in detail, are readily available for implementation by online retailers. The implementations are timely and increasingly valuable as e-commerce expands into interpersonal channels (e.g. instant messengers and social media). Originality/value: To the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to formally implement automated adaptive selling as described in the ISTEA model in an e-commerce setting.