Tag Archives: gender culture

Watch Out for this Crucial Cue when Selling to Women

Nodding Her Head Means Something Specific – Just Maybe Not What Salespeople Think it Means

Watch Out for this Crucial Cue when Selling to WomenWhile listening during a conversation, head nods are an automatic mannerism for women. When she nods, that means, “I get it. Keep talking.” Some salespeople confuse nodding and occasional “mmhm” murmurs as agreement or a readiness to close the deal. So, they’re confused when they get to the end of a pitch full of head-nodding, go for the close and get this response: “Oh, no, I’m not ready to buy. I need to think about it.” (And her statement doesn’t mean NO, by the way!)

Selling to Women? When She Stops Nodding, You Stop Talking

Watch Out for this Crucial Cue when Selling to WomenWhen your women customers stop nodding, that’s a very conscious communication. It means that she has something to say and would like space in the conversation to say it.

In male gender culture, when you have something to say, you jump in and say it. Interruptions are okay– and even respected. In female gender culture, that behavior is a social faux pas. You’re supposed to listen and wait your turn.

Here’s an quotation from some of my research with women customers interacting with salesmen:

“He wouldn’t stop talking! He just kept going! I did everything I could think of to indicate I had something to say. I closed my notebook. I put my pen on top of it. I arranged all my papers on my desk. Nothing worked!”

This customer was sending her salesperson all the polite, non-verbal signals she knew to indicate it was her turn to talk. But, since she never interrupted him, he had no idea these signals were meaningful.

Salespeople, remember that female gender culture has its own set of rules and etiquette. And pay attention to her non-verbal cues. They mean more than you think!



One Easy Chart to Help You Communicate with Women

Finding the Key to Marketing to Women

One Easy Chart to Help You Communicate with Women

Women and men respond to marketing communication in different ways because they communicate in different ways. They have different patterns and rituals of expression. Successfully marketing to women requires you to understand women’s communication keys. Luckily, I have a chart for that:

Women’s Communication Keys

Men’s Communication Keys

Full Context

“Complete article” – Women stress the importance of context and richness of detail. Her stories start with background and build to the main point.

Key Points

“Headlines” – Men believe in starting with the main point and only supplying detail if asked. They strip away extraneous detail.

Rapport Talk

Build connections – To win over women, you need to have conversations with them that creates a connection with her and her circle.

Report Talk

Establish status – Men, on the other hand, use conversation as a way to establish or defend individual status. They don’t focus on the personal.

Connect Through Affinity 

Women connect through affinity with others and establish links that highlight similarities. They focus on empathy- so your marketing should as well.

Connect Through Competition (Rank)

Men connect through competition- the friendlier the group of men, the more good-natured taunting and challenging you will find.

Stories and Personal Details

Women’s social currency consists of stories and personal details. They trade them, save them and value them. (Surely, this gives you marketers some ideas!)

Facts and Features

Men’s social currency relies on facts and features. I believe this is why sports scores and statistics are so popular with men, eh? They are becoming rich in social currency.

These four communication strategies should give you plenty of ideas for marketing to women. How will you plan to share stories, build rapport and build links with these valuable customers?

Some Sensitive Advice on Selling to Women

Some Sensitive Advice on Selling to WomenCompared to men, women have extrasensory sensitivity. They are able to register more subtle levels of sight, sound and touch. Also, they have “emotional X-ray vision:” they can read non-verbal signals more precisely, including tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

There’s another important attitudinal component that magnifies these sensitivities: women are a “sensitized population.” When selling to women, salespeople must understand this about women.

Most women have had enough experience with being slighted or treated inappropriately in certain sales situations that they’ve come to expect it. Not that they are tolerant of it, but forewarned is forearmed, and they’ve learned to at least be on guard against sexism. So, when women have a negative experience with a person or business, instead of chalking it up to overall lousy service, they often assume it’s because they are female.

Some Sensitive Advice on Selling to Women

For example, car salesmen have a reputation of being condescending when selling to women. I’m sure most of them are not, but almost every woman I’ve met has a story about an unpleasant car sales experience. And the stories get around, so car salesmen’s reputation precedes them. Both male and female car buyers are going to encounter rude treatment or poor service from time to time. But when men are treated rudely, they don’t walk out of the dealership feeling they were treated that way “because they’re men.” Instead they think, “That guy’s a jerk,” But women often attribute bad behavior to disrespect for women. And the really bad part is when they tell their friends, neighbors and coworkers about the dealership.

When you consider the dramatic differences in men’s and women’s gender culture– credibility displays, rapport-building games based on “one-up” instead of “same-same” and exchange of personal details, different listening behaviors and so-on– and combine that with many men’s underlying view that small courtesies are expressions of subservience instead of consideration for others, you can see that the situation is rife with opportunities for misunderstanding. And even innocuous, unintended oversights can easily be perceived by “sensitized populations” to be just one more example of deliberate discourtesy.

I’m not trying to create an atmosphere of walking on eggshells. Rather, I’m attempting to lay out in very concrete terms how and why an extra dose of sincere consideration and thoughtfulness goes such a long way with women. I think many salesmen are genuinely puzzled by women who get upset over a “little” thing like handing the keys for her test drive to her husband. A little extra reading on the topic and a little focused sellig-to-women training for your sales force can go a long way toward making sure you get your share of the women’s market.


Selling to Women? Small Courtesies Make Big Points

Selling to Women? Small Courtesies Make Big Points

Women are more sensitive to nuance and underlying meanings, and they respond emphatically and negatively to what men might categorize as minor oversights. This tendency makes selling to women a more detail-oriented endeavor. The flip side is that positive actions and small courtesies go a long way towards earning her trust and business.

A couple small examples– that aren’t small to women– include offering to get her a chair if it seems she’s had a long day, or getting her kids a couple sodas from the vending machine if it’s hot out.

Not Every Salesman Can Sell to Women This Way

Selling to Women? Small Courtesies Make Big PointsAt a recent sales training seminar I was conducting, I realized I have to be a little more specific on this point. A very experienced and successful salesman came up to me after the seminar and told me how pleased he was with the seminar and all the new stuff he’d learned. He said it had never really occurred to him to do the small courtesies before, but if “sucking up to the client is what it takes to make the sale, I guess I can do that.” I thought he was joking at first, but he wasn’t!

It reminds me of a scenario in Dr. Deborah Tannen’s book You Just Don’t Understand! in which she recounts a psychologist asking a husband-wife pair of respondents what they thought “politeness” meant. They answered at the same time: the woman said “consideration for others,” while the man said “subservience.” Asking around among my male acquaintances reveals that quite a few men share this attitude.

Since, to many men, my recommendation to offer small courtesies when selling to women seems antithetical to their culture, I now hasten to add: If you can’t do it with genuine sincerity, don’t do it at all. Women will see through fakery, and instead of having gained her appreciation, you’ll have lost her trust.

Organic Balance Keeps it Real in Fabulous New Marketing to Women Campaign

Most marketing to women execution makes me yawn– it’s predictable and not particularly appealing to women. But protein shake brand Organic Balance woke me up with this perfectly planned video:

This spot reminded me of the original U by Kotex campaign from a number of years ago, created by Ogilvy & MatherThat ​gracefully ironic self-awareness of the young women in the set-up scene – adorable! The real women segments had me nodding in self-recognition – funny!

​Organic Balance’s fabulous new marketing to women campaign really embodies my “Real, Not Ideal.” GenderTrends principle. While watching the video, it is such a relief to transition to the “real women’s mornings” part of the video! I felt so able to relate that I do believe I was having an oxytocin episode. (Oxytocin is the hormone that promotes bonding in everybody, but especially in women. It is released both when women feel, as well as when they want, more closeness.) When those real women segments were showing, I was thinking, “Yup – That would be me!”

The brand doesn’t stop with one video– the campaign directs viewers to a Real Morning Report mini-site that uniquely appeals to women. You’re invited to take a survey (fun!) that reveals what mornings are like for other women (interesting!). And invites you to share cute, pre-made “Morning Facts” with your networks  (easy! friendly!). Also, enjoy coupons  to try out the product.

Organic Balance Keeps it Real in Fabulous New Marketing to Women Campaign Organic Balance Keeps it Real in Fabulous New Marketing to Women Campaign Organic Balance Keeps it Real in Fabulous New Marketing to Women Campaign

Every element of this creative campaign shows the brand really understands women and how to relate to them. What can your brand learn from Organic Balance?

Get More Insight on Marketing to Women with “Real, Not Ideal” Positioning

Authenticity is meaningful and motivating to women. Here are a few of my other posts that will help you keep it real when marketing to women:

Look Her in the Eyes when Selling to Women

Look Her in the Eyes when Selling to WomenIt’s a simple tip, really. But so important. When you’re selling to women, make eye contact.

When women talk to each other, they stand face-to-face. They spend a lot of time looking at each other’s faces and making eye contact. It’s how they read each other’s body language and understand the nonverbal context of the conversation. It’s also one signal women give that “I’m paying attention to you.”

Look Her in the Eyes when Selling to WomenThis conversational style doesn’t come naturally to men, who prefer to make occasional eye contact while mostly looking at a neutral object. It’s sort of like two guys sitting next to each other at a ballgame. Face-to-face interaction seems aggressive in male gender culture.

But if you’re selling to women, you need to understand and work within female gender culture. She wants you to look at her! And she wants to be able to look at you.

Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction when Selling to Women

Here’s what happens when you look her in the eyes:

  • She’s confident you’re listening to her
  • She assumes you are interested in the conversation and that it’s important to you
  • She feels like she can listen to you more effectively because she can read your body language
  • She won’t be tempted to think you are daydreaming or distracted

Take a chance, look her in the eyes! She’ll notice. And she’ll appreciate it.

Selling to Women: How NOT to Annoy Your Women Prospects

“Selling to women is all about building relationships!”

selling-to-women-how-not-to-annoy-women-prospectsOh yes, this advice is definitely true. But it is also completely unhelpful to a salesperson who doesn’t understand female gender culture.

As a salesperson, you already build relationships. And you may be thinking, “But I treat my women clients just the same as my best male clients!” And that’s the problem.

Women are different.

As an illustration, take this first meeting between a financial advisor and prospect:

Financial Advisor: I’m so pleased to meet you. Let’s start with a little background for introduction. 

He then proceeds to describe his career and achievements.

Prospect: Let me tell you a little about my situation, family and future.

She then proceeds to tell stories about her life and the people in it.

Advisor: Well, now that we know each other a little, let’s get down to business. What kind of products are you looking to buy?

For a conversation between men, this sales meeting would be fairly successful. But a woman would be highly annoyed. Let’s explore why.

How the Financial Advisor Perceived the Conversation

Selling to Women: How NOT to Annoy Your Women ProspectsThe salesperson thinks he’s making friends and developing mutual respect through his “credentialing” introduction that described his success and acumen. Although the personal small talk went on a little longer than he would have liked, he feels like he helped the prospect narrow her focus and concentrate on what’s important.

How the Female Prospect Perceived the Conversation

Selling to Women: How NOT to Annoy Your Women ProspectsThe prospect thinks the salesperson is a bit arrogant and wonders why the first part of the meeting had to be all about him and his braggingAnd she’s annoyed that he ignored all the important life details that she took the time to share. She’s also off-put that he expected her to know what products she wanted this early in the process. She might think, “You’re the expert. I told you about myself and what I need. Why don’t you suggest what products would be best?”

So, to avoid annoying your women prospects, learn about the differences between men and women’s gender cultures and engage in conversations that respect her mindset.


Selling to Women: ‘I’ll Think About It’ Doesn’t Mean NO

No means NO. But when a woman says “I’ll think about it” to a salesperson, financial advisor or service provider, she is not politely dismissing you and your products.

In male gender culture, “I’ll think about it” is usually the polite way of telling a nice or persistent salesperson that the sale is not going to happen and the relationship is not going to move forward. For male salespeople, financial planners and financial advisors, they often take this phrase as a signal to move on to the next prospect.

Selling to Women: 'I'll Think About It' Doesn't Mean NO

But to women– saying “I’ll think about it,” means (surprise!) that she’s going to think about what you’re offering. With her Spiral Path purchasing process, women have to do a lot of thinking before arriving at the Perfect Answer (Especially if she’s considering a complex purchase, like choosing a financial advisor).

How Women Buy: The Spiral Path

So don’t be like the Canadian financial advisor who attended one of my Selling to Women programs who suddenly realized, “Oh no! I can’t believe how much business I’ve left on the table, because I never called back the women who told me they would think about it!”

Call those women back! Ask for their perspectives and prepare to answer the many questions they likely have after “thinking about it.”

Check Out This Marketing to Women Fail

Amazon Fire TV is a product that connects to your HDTV and streams content networks like Netflix, Hulu and (of course) Amazon Video. It’s a nifty little product that appeals to the growing market of TV viewers unsubscribing from cable and satellite.

But what Amazon Fire TV might have in product features, it lacks in marketing to women appeal. The product’s new #showhole campaign promotes:

“When the final credits roll and you fall into that void. What do you do? Don’t despair, Amazon Fire TV is here to pull you out of your #showhole.”

One marketing execution features a woman in loungewear, pale from lack of sunlight as she feeds her addiction to her favorite TV show. Then, horror of horrors, the last season is over, and she can only be comforted by… finding another show to watch.

Watch the Video: So Long, #Showhole

What’s Wrong with this Marketing to Women Campaign?

Besides being somewhat creepy (Knitting a full-body straight jacket? The vague ickiness of the word showhole?), here are three reasons why this marketing campaign won’t appeal to women:

  • Women are Ensemble Players. A lone woman, eating Chinese take-out isn’t aspirational to women. Women want to hang out with friends and would be more motivated by ‘viewing party’ imagery.
  • Women are Driven by Empathy. Watching this commercial is more likely to make a woman want to befriend the actress and take her out shopping than make her want to buy the product.
  • Women Love to Talk. Sitting silently in front of the TV is not most women’s idea of fun. She’d much rather chat with her girlfriends about the plot than become a recluse.

Women would probably love this product. Its on-demand flexibility fits into her schedule, and browsing thousands of options will help her feel she’s arrived at the Perfect Answer for what to watch during Girls Night In. But if her only exposure to Amazon Fire TV is this ad, she’s likely to think, “How strange. That’s not for me,” and move on.


[VIDEO] Women’s #1 Priority: Everything!

Men are better at focusing and prioritizing than women– but women want it all! For women, “the big picture” is full of every rich detail instead of just the top 3 priorities. Marketing to women professions need to know that women want all the important things– and then all the other important things!

Watch the Video: Women’s #1 Priority: Everything!