The C.I.T. as a qualitative research method to investigate critical emotional behaviors related to success and failure in sales interactions

  • Michel Klein
  • Fanny Poujol
  • Bruno Lussier
  • Christophe Fournier


Emotions and the management of emotions have a vital role in sales (Bagozzi, Gopinath, & Nyer 1999;
Bande, Fernández-Ferrín, Varela, & Jaramillo 2015; Kadic-Maglajlic, Micevski, Arslanagic-Kalajdzic, & Lee, 2017; Kidwell, McFarland, & Avila 2007; Mulki, Jaramillo, Goad, & Pesquera, 2015). However, critical affective processes in personal selling and sales management have not yet been studied sufficiently (Erevelles & Fukawa, 2013). To remedy this, the objective of our qualitative study, based on a C.I.T. survey, is to understand and explain the impact of salespeople’s emotional labor (i.e., emotion management) on success and failure in sales interactions. Notably, the literature is both sparse and conflicting regarding the impact on sales level of salespeople’s emotional labor in interactions with customers. Researchers have found either a positive relationship (e.g., Brotheridge, 2006) or a negative one (e.g., Sutton & Rafaeli, 1988). Furthermore, some researchers claim that authenticity has a greater impact on customers (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2002; Grandey, Fisk, Mattila, Jansen, & Sideman, 2005; Hennig-Thurau, Groth, Paul, & Gremler, 2006).
In the current study, we try to answer the following research questions: Does salespeople’s emotion management have an impact on success and failure in sales interactions? What is the impact of salespeople’s subjective emotional experience? What role is played by customers’ emotional behaviors? We are striving to answer these questions by means of an exploratory and inductive qualitative study concerning 454 salesperson-customer interactions. This C.I.T. study has collected accounts of salespeople’s and customers’ emotional behaviors during both successful and failed sales interactions, i.e. involving or not a subsequent buying decision (Tang, Seal, & Naumann, 2013; Tang, Seal, Naumann, & Miguel, 2013).