Today, with longer sales cycles and with women playing a far greater role in the buying decision, you need a communication style and sales skills that connect with women. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about the differences between the male and female brain. A study by Dr. Judith Tingley found that women’s frustrations with male salespeople have to do with those salespeople being overly aggressive, rushing through the call, acting condescending and egotistical, displaying a lack of sensitivity and politeness, and being unable to listen. Any of these create misunderstanding and misperception, ultimately resulting in lost sales. Instead, you should:
• Spend more time opening and exploring as opposed to closing. For many women, relationship and service are more important than product or price.
• Call back promptly; show up on time; call well in advance to notify her if you’re running late. Women are detail-oriented and remember everything.
• When you meet, look her in the eye and extend your hand. A handshake demonstrates you take her seriously.
• If speaking with a couple, give both equal attention: eye contact, body language, and conversation.
• Keep listening and slow down. Women research and ask questions — many questions. They need to know a lot of details and have knowledge to move forward. Men see this as weak and indecisive and often condescend without realizing it.
• Talk about your company’s accomplishments in terms of what people say about you, not what you say about yourself.
• Really listen. Men hear a concern, stop listening, and focus on “solving the problem to give her what she wants.” Yet what she really wants may be very different. Ask questions, peel back the layers, and keep listening.
—Colette Carlson is an expert on gender and selling. Reach her at speakyourtruth.com.
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