When a remodeling company sends a salesperson to the home, few homeowners expect that salesperson will be a woman. Why should they? There are so few women selling remodeling or home improvement. The homeowner’s first thought, no doubt is: How much could she know about building an addition?
Actually, women have several advantages that men don’t when it comes to selling. Research shows that women have a higher degree of emotional intelligence — the ability to sense in the moment what someone else is feeling — and use that to build rapport and chemistry.
Another advantage, in some cases, is what she’s not: She’s not the fast-talking (read: male) salesperson of stereotype, who is only too eager to say anything to get a signed contract and be on his way. Quite the opposite, her listening skills enable her to tie down information in a way that’s meaningful to clients.
SOme Challenges, Too
Here are the drawbacks. Sometimes women take too long to transition from rapport-building to actual business. That can leave the man of the house impatiently thinking: Hey, can we get a quote here?
The other drawback is that when it’s time to ask for the business, that same quality of empathy — confronted with a sudden objection — refuses to dive down deeper and ask more questions. It’s what causes her to say, “Yes, in fact, go ahead and take more time to think about it,” instead of asking the questions that could secure the agreement she needs to make the sale.
What women selling remodeling or construction services come up against, regardless of skill level, is that they’re working in a business that people see as necessarily male. That’s where credentials, credibility, and experience serve her well. She not only has to come across as informed, she has to appear more informed than her male counterparts.
The best way to overcome any intrinsic doubt or hesitation on the part of homeowners is for that salesperson to put her credibility out there in a way that’s not boastful or superior. Let the homeowner know you’ve managed or designed projects; that you’ve worked in the industry for X years. Then get back to the matter at hand — their house, their project.
And there’s one final area in which a woman selling remodeling has a certain advantage. Women view the world through wide-angled lenses, men through binoculars. Women, selling, see more. We spot and mitigate the potential interruption of, say, a kid who suddenly needs Mom’s attention. We read people. We can tell when we’ve said something that doesn’t click, that needs to be repeated or explained. It’s especially useful when selling to couples who disagree, as they often do. When they’re at a crossroads, we get them back on a single path. That’s because women are peacemakers by nature.
—Colette Carlson is an expert on gender and selling. Reach her at speakyourtruth.com.
More REMODELING articles about women selling remodeling:
Born to Sell: Women have good sales techniques naturally
Will Women be Managing Men in Construction and Getting Paid More Too?