GenderSell: How to Sell to the Opposite Sex

GenderSell: How to Sell to the Opposite Sex

by Judith C. Tingley, Lee E. Robert
     
 

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GenderSell is the first book to offer specific techniques on overcoming the single greatest barrier to effective sales — selling to the opposite sex. Despite the fact that women make approximately 85 percent of the purchasing decisions on most products and services and constitute more than 25 percent of today's sales force, nearly all relevant books

Overview

GenderSell is the first book to offer specific techniques on overcoming the single greatest barrier to effective sales — selling to the opposite sex. Despite the fact that women make approximately 85 percent of the purchasing decisions on most products and services and constitute more than 25 percent of today's sales force, nearly all relevant books have been written by men for men in sales about selling to men.
Now, at long last, Judith C. Tingley and Lee E. Robert bring you this essential guide, based on extensive research, including their own Sales Preference Survey, conducted with more than 600 participants. They answer important questions such as: What quality do customers say they like most about men in sales and why? What characteristic do they think is strongest in female professionals? Is the timing of the close different with male and female clients?
Using detailed examples and provocative case studies, the authors offer specific techniques to allow sales professionals to increase their revenues, profits, and overall success. GenderSell is the essential handbook for salespeople who want to meet the challenges of business in the 21st century.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Ken Blanchard coauthor of The One Minute Manager GenderSell is a must-read for anyone in the selling field. It's about time that someone recognized the importance of the psychological differences between the sexes and their impact on the buying and selling process.

Harvey Mackay author of Pushing the Envelope and Swim with the Sharks Take it from a resident Martian...this book cracks the gender code! With women driving 85 percent of the buying decisions, no salesperson — man or woman — should be caught without a copy of GenderSell. A genuine peace treaty for the War of the Sexes!

Library Journal
Tingley, a psychologist and consultant on workplace communication, has previously published Genderflex (AMACOM, 1994) and Say What You Mean (AMACOM, 1996). Coauthor Robert is a sales professional and well-known commentator in the area of "performance." They feel that in the future, selling will be more of a one-to-one experience and that, with the changing of the work force, it is vital for salespeople to understand the differences between selling to men and to women and be able to relate to either. The authors devote much of their book to discussing the uniqueness of each gender's approach to the purchasing decision from the perspective of the buyer and seller; they also consider selling to a couple. The findings are well presented and interspersed with examples from their personal lives or consulting careers. Heartily recommended for business, public, and academic libraries; anyone selling any product or service would benefit from studying this work.--Littleton M. Maxwell, Business Information Ctr., Univ. of Richmond, VA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684864372
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
04/20/2000
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
0.41(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Customizing for Consumer Gender

Consumers in the United States are more demanding, knowledgeable, worldly, and difficult to please than ever. People of all ages, of both genders, of different races, ethnicity, and religions, in non-traditional occupations and roles are buying products and services they have never bought before. There are hundreds of emerging trends among and between customers that will challenge the sales professional of the future as never before.

The tendency of men and women to change, merge, and separate as consumers is the number one trend, ripe for the attention of smart sales professionals. Changing demographics in the United States related to women and men, their occupations and careers and their roles and responsibilities at home and at work, have dramatically altered the customer base for a broad variety of products and services. Many buyers of traditionally "male" products in the U.S. marketplace are now women, while more and more men are buying what were once considered "female" products and services.

For example, male engineers and computer nerds aren't the only people buying modems and laptops. Housewives, househusbands, interior designers, architects, retail store owners, and home-based business owners are all getting in line and online. Men are buying household appliances, groceries, and their own clothes. They are purchasing plastic surgery, facials, and manicures. They're buying single-parent houses and the Oriental rugs and artwork to go with them. Meanwhile, women are buying office buildings, stocks, and cigars. They are playing golf and joining country clubs. They are purchasing business travel and disability insurance.

A large number of business equipment customers are now at home instead of in high-rises — either telecommuting or conducting home-based businesses. These are people who need fax machines, phones, modems, and computers. (Will the old Fuller Brush salesperson be replaced by the door-to-door business equipment sales pro?) Many of these home-based businesses are female-owned, and their main contact with the world of commerce is through their computer.

Small and large businesses are trying to catch up or stay ahead of all the changes in the marketplace: changes in products, in services, in target markets, and in customers. A print shop owner was stunned to see his customer base move from 100 percent male purchasers to more than 80 percent female purchasers in less than three years. He was not prepared for this change and didn't have the needed sales skills. He is still trying to adapt.

In contrast, BMW leaped ahead of its competitors by taking advantage of changing trends. The market for BMWs is no longer white men between thirty-five and fifty. It is women as well, both young and old. This change was anticipated and orchestrated. BMW was ready for the leap in the percentage of female buyers because it foresaw the changes in male and female roles, interests, and lifestyles.

A new monthly publication, Connect Time, is distributed through local newspapers. The news magazine format which is focused on people, is colorful, warm, and friendly. The stated goal is to put a human face on technology. In our opinion, the magazine is aimed at the female population of recreational computer users, but its editor says the target market is people intimidated by the Internet who would like a more comfortable relationship with it. The editor said that more men suffer from Internet phobia than women. Talk about a niche market!

Gender — the Big Difference Between Customers

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All these dramatic changes point strongly to the need for distinct approaches to marketing, advertising, and selling to the two genders. We all know that men and women are different — in the way we look and think, in the way we talk and behave, in the way we use computers and grills, in our TV preferences, in our favorite vacation spots, and even in our food choices. We can usually laugh about some of our most common differences even if they also seem to fit a stereotype. For example, many men refuse to ask for directions; women often cry at the drop of a hat.

Because men and women are different as shoppers and buyers, and because they are different types of communicators, they want to be treated differently by salespeople. One size never fits all, nor does one sales approach work equally well with men and women. For example, I (Judy) see tremendous differences in the way my husband and I shop. Although neither of us necessarily epitomizes the average man and woman, our specific gender differences are probably representative of the majority in certain aspects of the purchasing process.

For example, Mike enjoys buying a car in one day. He puts aside the entire afternoon to negotiate the deal. He has done all the research ahead of time, without benefit of any relationship with a salesperson or any test drive in the desired model. He generally knows what he wants and goes to buy it. He enjoys the gamesmanship of the bargaining process. It is a competitive challenge to negotiate with the salesperson and to get a great deal. He is focused on the task at hand and enjoys the traditional haggling process.

In contrast, I see the car-buying process as potentially a month-long adventure. I like to look at all kinds of cars, to drive a variety of models, to think and talk about and savor the shopping, culminating in a final decision after lengthy conversations with friends and family.

We usually approach the whole process of buying differently, regardless of what product or service we are purchasing. Some of these differences may have to do with personality and experience, but in most cases they stem from the fact that he's a man and I'm a woman.

Other couples often notice gender differences when shopping for clothes. Occasionally Patti's husband, Pete, will go with her to the mall. He goes only when he thinks the trip will be short and Patti wants his opinion on a particular special item: a suit, dress, or bathing suit, perhaps. Pete heads straight for the rack where Patti's size is, pulls out the item in the color she says she wants, and proclaims, "Here it is. This is just what you wanted, and I like it. Try it on." "Let's go" is the unspoken follow-up.

Inevitably, even if the dress or suit fits perfectly and is in the right price range, Patti wants to look around a little more, try on a few more things, and check out a couple more stores. Pete consistently feels confused and duped. He thought they came to buy something, not to look around. Patti intends to buy something, but not quite so quickly or easily.

This stream of gender difference is endless — not for each of us or all of us or all the time, but for many of us most of the time, in a broad variety of settings and contexts. All these differences in thinking, perception, and behavior translate into specific differences in men and women as consumers and as your customers.

About Women and Marketing details research about gender-different responses to products, services, and advertising. Knowing this type of information can help sales professionals understand and enhance their approach to the opposite sex. For the most part the following examples hold true:

* Women use computers. Men love them. Women think of them as similar to an appliance. Men think of them as similar to a friend.

* When planning a wedding, men are mostly interested in the food and drink; women, in the church, the music, the dresses, and rings.

* Women and men both like beer, but women's tastes in beer are often different from men. They also object to the total male focus in beer advertising.

* Men may take three months to pick out a new car. But unlike women, who get the rap for being slow decision-makers when shopping for cars, men spend that three months reading and researching on their own, often not even visiting a dealership until they have decided exactly what they want and what they are going to pay.

* Men don't like shopping for holiday gifts. They see it as a task to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. They want quick solutions. Women generally enjoy shopping more, are better bargain hunters, and take more time to look for and pick out what they think is just the right gift.

* Men use senior discounts to a higher degree than women.

* Women are generally more concerned with health care in general, and choosing the right physician, in particular, than are men.

* All other things being equal, women are more likely to buy a product from a company that clearly demonstrates a corporate conscience than one that doesn't. Anita Roddick's Body Shop is a good example (although there has been some recent doubt about just how "green" she really is). She does no animal testing of products and uses primarily renewable natural materials. She subsidizes day care and runs child development centers for her employees in the United Kingdom. Her products may or may not be any better than those of comparable companies, but her global community outlook and her caretaking mentality appeal to her female customers.

* Women are interested in learning golfspeak even before they learn to play golf so they can listen and talk intelligently with male colleagues about their golf game.

* In making buying decisions about computers, women rely more heavily on service, price, and the vendor's reputation and experience than men do.

* Men are more interested in antibacterial agents in soap. Women are more interested in moisturizing and fragrance. As men are becoming more concerned about skin care, they are more interested in the moisturizers but still don't go for floral smells, light or not. A new unisex soap is in the works.

* Women are playing and watching sports in much greater numbers than ever before.

Clearly, understanding the gender differences in focus, interests, and behavior in your industry or relevant to your specific product can be a major contribution to success in closing the deal.

Gender — a Big Difference Between Sales Professionals

If men and women are different as customers, then they are certainly also different as salespeople. As part of the hands-on research for Gendersell, I (Judy) went shopping for a car. I knew that the communication and relationship skills of the salesperson would be even more important in my final decision than the specific car I was buying. I could connect psychologically with the people. I wouldn't connect with the car, at least not with the same intensity.

What I had hoped would be an enjoyable experience turned into the all-too-familiar automotive odyssey — a circus of bungling gamesmanship. But I observed some definite gender differences in the way salespeople behave and communicate.

I chose two different makes and two different models to investigate, two different dealerships, and two different salespeople with whom to work. Both Joe and Dorothy behaved in somewhat expected and stereotypic sex-role ways. Dorothy talked too much about her personal life and didn't talk enough about the car. She gave the wrong prices and was overly apologetic. She was clearly sincere but not a strong influencer or an assertive seller. Joe asked and talked too little about my needs and wants, listened too little to what I said, and pushed too much to sell what he had instead of what I wanted. He seemed to be playing a familiar, scripted game and was annoyed because I didn't know or didn't play by the rules.

In this story, Joe's sales techniques don't necessarily represent those of all male salespeople, just as Dorothy's don't reflect those of all female salespeople. Still, they each behaved in ways that are generally characteristic of their particular gender. Dorothy's conversation about herself and the personal aspects of her current life situation are communication approaches found more commonly in women than in men. In general, women are less direct in their communication and prefer and often produce a more soft sell approach to sales.

Joe exhibits characteristics of many men, both in and out of sales. He is playing by certain rules that he expects the customer to play by as well. He is not as interested in the relationship as he is in the deal. His focus is on playing the selling game according to the prescribed ritual, not on establishing a long-term relationship with the consumer as a present and future customer. He is thinking about the here and now, and making it happen. Dorothy is thinking about the longer term relationship.

Are there salesmen who are more relationship oriented than saleswomen are? Are there saleswomen who are very direct and more interested than Dorothy in talking about their product? Of course there are. But our survey research shows that customers perceive the same general gender differences in salespeople that I noticed while working with Joe and Dorothy.

Customers want it all, from both male and female sales professionals. They want caring. They want depth and breadth of knowledge. They want to be understood. They want a friendly, genuinely interested approach. They want intelligence and good looks. They want assertiveness but not aggressiveness. They want confidence but not cockiness. They want expertise and experience with the product or service.

Women customers may want a different ratio of friendliness to product knowledge than their male counterparts; male customers may care more about the product than they do about the salesperson's approach. For the learning salesperson, improving your ability to read customers and influence or persuade them based on their gender is an advanced skill that will ultimately ensure more and better sales to a particularly diverse customer base.

What Gender Is Your Product or Service?

If the gender of the sales professional interacting with the gender of the customer isn't enough to add complexity to the already intricate sales situation, there are theorists who assert that products have a clear gender, too. Pamela Alreck's article in the Journal of Product and Brand Management points out that there are basic masculine and feminine products: those associated with use by one sex or the other (for example, panty hose, after-shave lotion, makeup, and jockstraps). But, she notes, many products purchased and used by both sexes are imbued with a masculine or feminine image in design, advertising, promotion, and distribution. For example, sporting goods, barbecues, garden tools, movies, books, and cars can be promoted as gendered products and made to fit either the masculine or feminine role.

A barbecue could be positioned as "a giant power king of a barbecue" for the guy who likes to grill a half side of venison, or it can be positioned as a big but lightweight barbecue that can cook a whole meal at a time. Alreck cautions that women will accept masculine-gendered brands, but men almost totally reject feminine-gendered brands. (For example, women will buy male-gendered bikes, but almost all men would reject female-gendered bikes.)

While men have traditionally been averse to feminine-gendered brands or items, only recently have women begun to reject male-gendered items. They are demanding equipment, sports clothing, and even business and sports magazines that are constructed as well as gendered specifically for women. One Inc. magazine reader commented that she wished articles were constructed so that readers didn't have to be wearing a jock strap to understand them.

While the idea that products and services are in fact gendered may be a new concept to you, it is common knowledge to the consumers responding to the Sales Preference Survey. These same consumers/respondents also seemed to think that most of the time a salesperson who is of the same gender as his or her product or service sells it the best.

If a woman in sales can use a "male" approach to sell a male product and if a man in sales can use a "female" approach to sell a female product, they will both boost their success rate. And this ability is the foundation of becoming a Gendersell expert.

Copyright © 1999 by Performance Improvement Pros

Meet the Author

Judith C. Tingley, a psychologist and expert on workplace communication, has worked with a broad spectrum of clients, including BMW, Merrill Lynch, Intel, and Motorola. The author of Genderflex and Say What You Mean, Get What You Want, Tingley lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and can be reached on the Web at www.gendersell.com.

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