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Sales Management: Grim Retail Personalities

Furniture World Magazine
Volume 150 NO 3 May/June


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A post COVID-19 fairy tale from the pages of the Brothers Grim starring your very own sales team.

Today’s retail world may seem like a frightening chapter in a fairy tale. Read on and see how to deal with the storybook characters you may be able to spot on your store's sales team.

It may be a case of history repeating itself, or life imitating art. Back in 1812, the Grimm Brothers (aka the Brothers Grimm) published a story we now know as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Over the next 40 years, the story was revised several times, including naming the dwarfs Huckepack, Naseweis, Packe, Pick, Puck, Purzelbaum and Rumpelbold, then later, after the seven days of the week.

The story was produced as a play in 1912 with the names changed to Blick, Flick, Glick, Plick, Quee, Snick and Whick. Next came a Betty Boop cartoon, with Betty in the lead role. The names most of us are familiar with date to the Walt Disney film version released in 1937. If you engaged in a barroom bet to name them all, and assuming you didn’t sample too many IPAs, you would be correct if you answered Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy and Doc.

Walt Disney wanted to bring fun family entertainment to all of us, but he wasn’t shy about adding a few life lessons. He gave each a personality that matched their name. During this COVID thing, members of your sales team may have developed one or more of the following personality types. And, you may detect personality changes in yourself. If so, read on and remember, it takes a big person to admit they have a few small flaws.

Bashful: Bashful is very shy and kind-hearted. In our retail world, it may be the person we call “A Trouper,” one who takes direction and never argues. They may be that person who faithfully does all the tagging and dusting and cleans the break room. Although Bashful is quiet, it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t want human contact! Bashful is more comfortable in one-on-one situations. Take time to call or text your bashful teammate today-just to check up on things.

Bashful: Bashful is very shy and kind-hearted. In our retail world, it may be the person we call “A Trouper,” one who takes direction and never argues. They may be that person who faithfully does all the tagging and dusting and cleans the break room. Although Bashful is quiet, it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t want human contact! Bashful is more comfortable in one-on-one situations. Take time to call or text your bashful teammate today-just to check up on things.

Dopey: Dopey is the only dwarf who does not have a beard. He is accident-prone and just a bit goofy. Your organization may have a similar character. During your re-opening period, this dude or dudette may forget about social distancing and safe hygienic practices, putting themselves, your team, and shoppers at risk. Individual states and cities will have different requirements during re-opening, but be sure everyone on your staff is in compliance during work hours.

Grumpy: Grumpy is the guy that initially opposes Snow White's presence in their home. You’ll recognize your own Grumpy by their constant negativity, sharing repetitive thoughts such as, “nothing is as good as it used to be,” “we’ll never recover,” and other phrases that indicate that the “world is crumbling.” Grumpy acted that way before COVID and will continue to act that way after. You can’t change behavior, but you can change teammates. It’s okay to have a Grumpy on staff as long as they don’t affect the attitudes of others, or interact negatively with customers.

Sneezy: His name is earned by his extraordinarily powerful sneezes. These days we don’t need people who “suit up and show up.” A powerful paradigm shift of the pandemic is learning that sick people need to stay home, without shame or fear of job loss. It was true before COVID and truer today.

Sleepy: Sleepy is always tired and appears lethargic in most situations. In our business there is no more room on staff for Sleepy. The entire retail world has changed, just in the last six to eight weeks. It’s not a change we can sleep-walk through. Survivors and victors will be the people who can adapt to change quickly and actively. Anyone on your team who sleeps through the changes will contribute to your store being left behind.

Happy: Happy is a jovial guy and is usually portrayed laughing. COVID is no joking matter, but we all need to keep a sense of humor in any period of major change. Happy is the person on the team who keeps the mood light, sees the best outcomes, and lives in a world populated with old friends and friends they haven’t yet met. Put Happy in charge of keeping people in communication, whether through group video calls, phone calls, or texts. Services like Zoom are a great way to see and hear your team, even if it’s an informal "HAPPY" hour.

Doc: The leader of the seven dwarfs, Doc often mixes up his words when he wants to make a point. Every team and every organization, even in our retail world, needs great leaders. Listening to what the leader says is often more important than criticizing how they say it—it’s important to get past the static of grammar and minor speech errors that occur when speakers are passionate about a subject. If you are the leader, you can help everyone else out by considering what you want to say, and by being a leader who also listens.

Sometimes it seems like we are living in a story written by the Brothers Grimm. But like most fairy tales, there will be some scary moments, a couple of evil villains, an unsuspecting hero, and the happy ending we all want and can’t wait to hear.


About Gordon Hecht: Gordon Hecht is Senior Manager-In Store Concepts for Serta Simmons Bedding Company, introducing and expanding bedding business in conventional and non-traditional venues. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht