At the end of a day-long retail sales training program I was conducting with a group, one of the owners piped up, "What we need are some gay guys to sell our merchandise." I asked, "Why specifically gay men?"
She answered, "Because when we visited stores yesterday in New York City, they were out and willing to tell anyone in a matter-of-fact way. They were personable, fun, and you just wanted to buy from them."
I understood from her follow-up descriptions why she would want these particular men to work as her salesmen.
Of course, we all know this isn't practical for various reasons like EEOC commissions and how a sign would look in a shop window. And not all gay people are that personable, stylish, or fun - just like straight people.
What intrigued me about this comment was all the qualities she had attributed to gay men were really true of the Expressive personality type.
Expressives tend to be extroverts who occasionally tend to make their private business public and share information without boundaries.
An opposite of the Analytical, the Expressive is the grasshopper living for today. Expressives worry about being seen like everybody else instead of recognized for their uniqueness. Again, their enthusiasm and energy are the spark plugs for your team. Their showiness can be compared to a peacock.
Their enthusiasm can sometimes make them feel invincible and can overwhelm Analyticals who want just the facts.
Expressive personalities have to process externally, while Driver and Analytical personalities don’t. The downside to an Expressives’ natural inclination to show multiple possibilities might require the customer to bring them back to the product the customer is considering, not all of the other possibilities.
Their natural enthusiasm can also inflate products’ benefits without devoting time to adequately explaining why.
Is that a gay thing? No.
It all stems from the basic Expressive personality - what this owner identified in the retail employee was the personality type that happened to be gay, not a gay person.
The Expressive personality style is the most challenging of all the personality types. Their energy is the very thing that often keeps many from hiring them. Their creativity, individualism, and self-assuredness can be threatening.
And when you're trying to teach them a rigid process your Analytical employees can easily take to, this personality will constantly challenge why they have to do it "that way." They will complain that their creativity is being stifled - they feel like robots.
We must remember that the Expressive is the spark plug to your crew. They are the one that adds color, excitement, and fun.
Is that a gay thing? No, it's an Expressive personality thing.
Should you specifically recruit gay men to sell your merchandise? If they are Expressives - yes. If they are lesbians who are Expressives - yes. What about straight men and women who are Expressives - yes.
You don't need a lot of Expressives on your sales floor, but at least one keeps things interesting and fun for your crew and your customers. While their ability to start a lot of projects but finish only a few on their own will require your best retail management training skills, it's worth it.
Not sure which of the four personality styles are on your floor? Have them take the quiz.
Want to learn more about managing the four personality types and growing your sales by speaking to each type's very different needs? Check out SalesRX.