As noted by Babin, Babin, and Boles (1999), "in retailing contexts where there is considerable contact with the salesperson, the customer-salesperson dyad is the primary determinant of how the customer views the retailer/dealer." They continue, "retail salespeople can have a strong influence on customer purchase decisions." Since purchases keep retailers in business, making sure salespeople get the best "return on investment" for every minute spent with a customer - from first impression to assisting the customer to finalizing the sale (or losing the customer) - is critical.
According to Grandey, Fisk, Matilla, Jansen, and Sideman (2005a), it is particularly important to appear both competent and likeable in making a good impression.
Any part of the body can be used in nonverbal communication. However, one part, the face, is the most expressive. Various parts of the face and how they are used are strong ways of communicating: eye contact, frowning, dropping one's jaw, pouting, crying, smiling, and more. Though each of these topics can be a paper in and of themselves, it is the last - smiling - that will be the focus of this paper, specifically its role in retail sales. The paper will look at two factors: 1) Whether the salesperson smiled at a new customer as a function of whether the salespersons' previous customer interaction resulted in a sale or not and, 2) Whether the different conditions (smile/no-smile) led to a visibly different response (positive/engaged or negative/distanced) from the new customer. Further detail on the research hypotheses will be presented at the end of this section.
There is a lot of literature on nonverbal communication and smiling. ...