The Selling E-Letter
He Said She Said
Have you heard the
joke, why is it that a man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants and a woman
will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't want? Subtle gender differences
in behavior, especially in communication, also appear in the selling
arena. We should be aware of these differences to make our selling easier
and understand their impact on our selling.
What are the differences? Dr. Deborah Tannen,
a specialist in the field of sociolinguistics, says men's conversation
tends to focus on status while women's tends to focus on connection. Men
feel it's okay to brag; women don't. Tell a woman about your problem and
she'll respond with understanding and empathy. A man tends to respond by
Researchers at the University of California studied
male-female communication patterns. They found that men were responsible
for 96% of the interruptions. Other research shows that women want to
build relationships in business. They are more sensitive to their
treatment and value it more. Men prefer to stick to facts and figures.
Women share much more information with many more people than men do. In
the workplace the male style has become the norm.
this happen? Behavioral differences develop from differences in early
childhood experiences. Boys tend to play outside, in large groups that are
Their games have a leader, winners and
losers, and elaborate systems of rules. Boys tend to boast about their
skills and argue about who is best at what. Girls usually play in small
groups or pairs, and within the group intimacy is key. The preferred
girls' games, like jump rope and hopscotch, have an emphasis on everyone
getting a turn rather than one individual winning or losing. Girls are
expected not to boast about their skills. Those that do are generally not
regarded well by their peers.
What can you do about it? When
a man is selling to a woman he should spend time building the
relationship. He should avoid interrupting when she's talking. He should
listen completely before immediately offering a solution. It's better for
sales, too. Presenting the solution too early in the sales process loses
many sales. Salespeople miss the opportunity to demonstrate the customer's
need for the solution if the solution is presented too
When a woman is selling to a man, she should present
the solution by telling it, rather than offering it as a question. "How
about if you do this?" is perceived as lacking commitment to the solution.
When she offers a solution she is not asking for discussion about the
validity of the idea.
She should avoid using disclaimers like "I'm no
expert, but…" when presenting her ideas. Disclaimers diminish the value of
ideas. Selling requires sharing the successful sales results that
salespeople have achieved with other customers. Telling a customer about
increasing revenue or lowering costs for other customers is not bragging.
It's part of the information customers need to make an informed buying
Since women share more information with more people
than men do, all salespeople should make sure they are asking their female
customers for referrals. Female customers will be more likely to share the
information with you. Take advantage of this opportunity to build your
Changes in early childhood experiences may change
the gender dynamics in the future. I suspect gender differences will
always be with us.
Recent research shows actual structural differences in
the brains of men and women. The good news is the research shows the
behavioral traits are not fixed. Both males and females can learn to adopt
different approaches. I can recommend additional reading if you would like
to learn more about this area.
Meanwhile, let's celebrate the differences
and learn the best from each other.
Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales professionals on skills and
strategies so they can sell more and be more productive at work. She
is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results which is
available at www.BestatSelling.com. She founded her company
Best@Selling in 1997. You can reach her at 972.380.0200.