In a bouncing southern accent, Pam Fry of Mr. Rogers Windows tells the story of selling replacement windows to a North Carolina couple — a farmer and his wife. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, her sixth and last day of a tough week. She had driven way out into the country to meet with the couple and was in no mood for a tough sell. She surmised from a few minutes alone with the woman that the marriage was a traditional one; the husband would do all the talking and deciding. Seated at the table in her professional skirt and blouse and full of confidence, Fry began her usual presentation. The husband, a big man who'd come down from the fields in his overalls, smacked the table and stood up. “You know, Ms. Fry,” he said in a thick drawl, “if you had come in here with your blue jeans and boots I might think you know what you're talking about. But you come in here all frillied up and I'm just not sure you know what you're talking about.”

Fry disarmed him by looking him right in the eye. “I understand exactly what you're saying,” she said to him calmly. “Now I'd like the opportunity to show you what I'm talking about.” She proceeded to wow him with her knowledge. Three hours and 15 minutes later — about an hour longer than normal, she says — she had sold $10,000 worth of windows. “Then he walked me out to the car and gave me a jar of the family barbeque sauce and meat from the pig they'd roasted and had in the freezer.”

When Nicki Joy, a sales trainer and speaker, hears stories like this, she sees it as another example of the ways that women's inherent nature helps them become good salespeople. In the introduction to her book, Selling is a Woman's Game, Joy writes that women are blessed by Mother Nature with “special gifts — the gift of gab, compassion, patience, emotion, endurance, tolerance, versatility, and resourcefulness, just to name a few.” Feminist arguments concerning the use (or abuse) of stereotypical feminine traits aside, Joy points out that “these skills, traits, characteristics, and tendencies are just the stuff that good salespeople are made of.”

Anecdotal evidence — for there are no hard facts — bear her out in the remodeling industry. In this traditionally male business, there are a small group of women who are owners or designers doing sales, or even, like Fry, doing straight sales. But in many cases they're outselling their male counterparts.

It's a Woman's World Peggy Fisher, co-owner with her husband, Ken, of the Fisher Group in northern Virginia, says that “women make a heavy percentage of the decisions in a remodeling project,” so she finds that although a husband may make “the dollar … decisions, he will often defer to his wife on finishes, materials, styles, and eventually price.” A woman selling has an advantage because “women have real strong bonding and [recognize] real life considerations in space planning, style, and aesthetics.”

Joy sees this as a basic psychological principle: We trust people most like ourselves. “Women connect to create trust on the spot,” she says. “They try to find commonality with other women. ‘Oh yeah,' they say, ‘me too.' ‘You like mysteries? I do, too.' Our communication is centered around that. It's part of a trust-building process.”

Trust also is gained by listening, which Fisher and Joy agree is integral to the selling process as well as a natural part of women's communication style. “From what I've observed,” Fisher says, “men tend to be more big-picture and bottom line. Women tend to go down the byroads and hear the shades of meaning and subtleties of what's important to somebody.”

Listening is important when what you're selling is “being purchased emotionally not logically,” Joy says. “There's an old saying, ‘Logic makes people think. Emotion makes them act.' This is true for the remodeling field. A home is an emotional thing.” She believes “women are better at picking up buying signals — a couple moving closer physically, asking questions, men clearing their throats, women wetting their lips — they're more intuitive.”

Fry says listening is what has made her so successful — last year she sold close to $2 million. “When men walk in the door, people are afraid of being sold. They're not as good listeners. Women come across as believable, trusting, genuine, and they are typically relational.”

As Joy says, “You don't talk people into buying. You listen people into buying.”