Three Big Mistakes to Avoid When Selling to Women

Dhanisa Mashilfa

While women make up 51% of the U.S. population, did you know they account for 85% of all consumer purchases in the U.S.? Here are some facts on women’s $5 trillion in purchasing power.
Women are the decision makers for more than 80% of household purchases including:

*93% of OTC medicine
*80% of healthcare
*66% of PCs
*65% of new cars
*56% of gaming consoles like Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation
*55% of electronics (even that 72″ plasma TV you just bought)

This trend will continue well into the future as women are earning 57% of college BA degrees and earn 55% of the income in 55% of households.

Apparently, American companies just don’t get it as they continue to spend many more advertising dollars targeting men between 18-34 years of age (they buy mostly pizza and beer). In fact, most corporations do a poor job of selling to women. Notable exceptions include Nordstrom and Starbucks. I spent 8 years as a sales person and executive in the women’s shoe department at Nordstrom learning the secrets of selling to women. Here’s what I learned:

Men like to buy. Men favor a more transactional approach. They want to get into the store, make the purchase, and get out. While they value relationship building, they tend to see buying as a negotiation and therefore look at it as an opportunity to reach a goal, achieve success or win.

Women like to shop. Women prefer a more collaborative approach. They value the relationships they develop during the shopping process. They enjoy assessing their options and talking them over with a knowledgeable sales professional.

Three Tips on How NOT to Sell to Women:

1.Talk and do not listen: Women want you to understand their needs, so if you do all the talking then you won’t have to ask them discovery questions that will allow you to understand their situation.

2.Do not treat women with respect: More than anything, women want respect. So make sure to disrespect their intelligence, their situation and their needs.

3.Do not address their emotional needs: It is very important to women that their emotional needs be met during a buying interaction. So make sure to focus on fixing their problem, which is the logical need, and leave their emotional needs out of it.

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