To read this content please select one of the options below:

Emotional labor in a sales ecosystem: a salesperson-customer interactional framework

Michel Klein (Montpellier Research in Management, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 3 February 2021

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




The concept of emotional labor refers to the management of emotions in interaction with customers. This study aims to suggest an integrative definition of emotional labor. It develops a conceptual framework that helps organize and synthesize key insights from the literature, in an interactional and multi-level perspective.


This integrated framework consists in a mapping of key research themes resulting from a systematic literature review, which includes research in sales and marketing. As critical affective processes in sales have not been studied sufficiently, both in business-to-business and business-to-customer selling, this review also incorporates works in other research fields.


Sales representatives’ emotional labor must be considered as a bi-directional interaction with the customer in a multi-level perspective. Moreover, emotional labor has rather negative consequences for the salesperson (e.g. burnout and job stress), but may have positive sales and customer outcomes. Findings suggest that the expression of genuine emotions should be used during sales interactions. In addition, organizations should prevent customers’ negative behaviors (e.g. mistreatment).

Practical implications

Emotional labor key practical implications with regard to several management functions such as the recruitment, performance management and training (Ashkanasy and Daus, 2002) of the sales representatives.


Research on emotional labor in a sales ecosystem is scarce. It has largely covered service industry employees in contact with customers, but has not paid enough attention to sales representatives (Mikeska et al., 2015). The proposed integrated framework concerning emotional labor focuses on the bi-directional interaction between the sales representatives and their customers.



The author would like to thank following scholars for their diverse contributions: Juliet F. Poujol, University Paris-Nanterre; Christophe Fournier, University of Montpellier; Céleste Grimard Brotheridge, ESG UQUAM; Ronald Humphrey, Lancaster University; Sophie Berjot, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne; Maria Rouziou, HEC Montreal; Francine Klein, University of Wisconsin; Eric Kraemer, University of Wisconsin.


Klein, M. (2021), "Emotional labor in a sales ecosystem: a salesperson-customer interactional framework", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 666-685.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles