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The first marketing study to assess the sales impact of the presence of a salesperson’s face and emotional displays was published for The Conversation by two faculty members from the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Business.


Michael Ballings, assistant professor of business analytics; Neeraj Bharadwaj, professor of marketing; and Prasad Naik, a marketing professor at the University of California, Davis, found smiling or exhibiting other positive emotional displays while selling a product over live video—known as livestreaming—makes people less likely to buy it.

Business majors and future salespeople are typically taught to provide service with a smile, but their research challenges the original notion of selling with a smile and replaces it with a new maxim: sell with a straight face. Read the full article on The Conversation.

UT is a member of The Conversation—an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.



Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,

Scott McNutt (86-974-3589,