Editor’s Note: In this guest post by author Mary Hunt, she presents 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts when selling to women small business owners. The information is based on research gathered by herself and Terri Whitesel, of Interpret-her, and information contained in her book, In Women We Trust.
By Mary Hunt
When selling to women small business owners, the main thing to remember is that first and foremost they are people. Deal with them on a genuine, personal level and focus on creating relationships, rather than creating sales. If you do that, the sales will follow. That said, here are ten specific pieces of advice, broken down into 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts:
DO’S FOR SELLING TO WOMEN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
- 1. DO Get Her to Talk. Encourage women to tell you everything about how your service will fit into their business. If you’re male, you may have to encourage the conversation more than once, so that it doesn’t feel like a token request. Find the common ground first and then get into business. Don’t cut the conversation short.
- 2. DO Try to be equitable vs. equal. Being equitable sets up an atmosphere where each party brings talents to the table and are recognized for those talents regardless of monetary value. Equality sets up an atmosphere of comparison and that’s a no win for everyone. Even twins can’t be totally equal. Being equitable is a mindset that women appreciate as it sets up a peer partnership relationship.
- 3. DO Protect your Cyber Karma. What goes around stays around. Women use word-of-mouth referrals far more than men. Email and blogs have upped that communication ante. Make sure they leave your office, phone call or website — happy or at least not ticked. This week I was asked for a referral on something I bought 6 years ago.
- 4. DO Give yourself a trust point check up. Ask your female customers what they trust about you personally, your website, your blog … all points of communication and offerings. Try to get them to articulate the tangible things that keep trust high. It may surprise you. And, read what women are posting on the opinion sites that will tell you quickly where others are failing. An example of a tangible thing that keeps trust high is providing product comparison charts, much like Consumer Reports does. It promotes confidence in the product’s market position and saves her product research time.
- 5. DO Return all communications promptly. Do so even if it’s just to say that you can’t help. Women talk (see #3). Maybe you won’t be able to sell them, but they’ll keep you in mind the next time a gal pal asks for suggestions. Men don’t care as much about follow up calls, but many women take it as a personal affront. Following up reinforces that they matter “as a person” first and customer second.
DON’TS WHEN SELLING TO WOMEN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
- 1. DON’T live your agenda, i.e. “I’m going to close you before you leave the door ….” Unfortunately, most sales training is geared to that and now women have taken the same training. They can see the “tactic” and write you off. Stay in “I’m here to help” mode all the time. Think what it’s like to buy a car. Is that fun? Women have told me that they put off buying a new car just because the sales experience is so lopsided and dreaded. Men like the challenge of the car buying game. Women hate it.
- 2. DON’T abuse “cause marketing.” Women are givers and they appreciate others who give in the same way they do, which is freely with no strings attached. Giving back has always been good for business, but give back to something you truly believe in and not just as a way to hook more female customers. We’re not idiots. Avoid “strap-on causes,” meaning, do something other than give money to a cause. Show that your business really cares about the cause, in the same way that an individual would care. Are you a dentist? Support a school’s fresh food program. Does your company manufacture binders? Support programs that teach people how to read and write. Find a match first and then support with money and volunteers.
- 3. (For men) DON’T say, “I like women, my wife is a woman.” Or something equally as token (yes, I heard that last month). You either understand how to blend with women, or you don’t. If you have to say it, you don’t. Ask yourself, would a woman say this to other women? If not, don’t say it, either.
- 4. DON’T overlook the power of “thank you.” Say it as if it’s never been said before. Women can’t be thanked enough because sometimes, it’s their only reward. They are the queens of handwritten thank you cards.
- 5. DON’T dismiss the age category. Boomer women have had a lifetime of trying to get over social and political obstacles; they have little patience with those who don’t give them credit where credit is due; that “grandma” could also be somebody’s lawyer.
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About the Author: Mary Hunt is an author and advocate for both sides of the buyer/seller equation. In her former ad agency and business marketing roles she has worked with retail, service and industrial companies.
In her new book, In Women We Trust she outlines the converging trends that are driving women to seek each other’s advice — trends such as Economic Clout, New Girls’ Clubs and Word-of-Mouth Referrals.
Mary writes in Orange County and on her blog www.InWomenWeTrust.com