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Business Review - Gratitude or Obligation

IN BUSINESS RELATIONS, EMOTIONS SHAPE OUTCOMES IN UNPREDICTABLE WAYS. STEPHANIE MANGUS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, UNCOVERS THIS EMOTIONAL TAPESTRY, AND THE COMPLEX WATERS OF THE SALES SIDE OF COMMERCE.

This particular research examines how salesperson emotions impact customer outcomes in B2B relationships. What happens when a salesperson feels grateful towards their customer. And so we examined that particular emotion along with indebtedness.

MANGUS' RESEARCH FOUND THAT WHEN CONSUMERS SHOW EXCESSIVE KINDNESS, SALESPEOPLE MAY EXPERIENCE AN EMOTIONAL SENSE OF INDEBTEDNESS RATHER THAN GRATITUDE.

Typically you think of salespeople giving gifts or tickets to a game or a dinner. So when that comes from the customer depending on the industry, that can feel awkward and odd like, why are you gifting me something? So that can create a feeling of indebtedness such as the salesperson is feeling.....I can't do anything extra for you…My rates are my rates.

MANGUS EMPHASIZES THAT CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE ENHANCED THROUGH STRATEGIC CUSTOMER-SALESPERSON PAIRING. WHEN CUSTOMERS AND SALESPEOPLE SHARE SIMILAR IDENTITIES, ACTS OF KINDNESS CAN NURTURE FEELINGS OF GRATITUDE. CONVERSLY, PAIRING DISSIMILAR INDIVIDUALS COULD LEAD TO FEELINGS OF INDEBTEDNESS DUE TO THE POTENTIAL FOR UNCLEAR MOTIVATIONS."

To the extent that we can put customers and salespeople together that have a great deal of similarity, particularly in values, interests, ways of seeing the world, we're more likely to see gratitude come from those relationships versus indebtedness.

THE BUSINESS REVIEW IS A PRODUCTION OF LIVINGSTON AND MCKAY AND THE HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY.

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C.J. Jackson drives on sunshine and thrives on family, NPR and PBS. She is the assistant dean of communications and marketing at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business and host of public radio’s “Business Review.” Previously, she was director of marketing communications for a large, multinational corporation. C.J. has two daughters—Bri in San Antonio and Devon in Chicago—and four grandchildren. She lives with a little yellow cat named for an ancient Hawaiian tripping weapon.