Tag Archives: The Perfect Answer

Why Do Women Ask SO Many Questions?

When You’re Selling to Women, You’d Better Know Your Stuff

Why Do Women Ask SO Many Questions?Women ask a lot of questions. Women take longer to make a buying decision. It’s not because she’s fickle, and it’s not because she can’t make up her mind. It’s because women have a different decision-making process from men.

This difference between men and women is the key to motivating women to buy from you. And understanding women’s decision-making process will take the hassle out of selling to women.

Men are focused on their top criteria. As soon as they find a product that meets their criteria, they buy it.

Women are more detail-oriented. They identity all the important things– and all the other important things, as well. Women have a longer list of criteria, and they want everything. To show what I mean, let’s consider an example.

How Women and Men Book Hotels Differently

Everyone, women and men alike, have two main criteria for booking a hotel room:

  1. Location
  2. Price

So, let’s say you want a hotel in mid-town Manhattan for about $450/night. There are plenty of options. If you’re a man, you’ll book the first one you find. Mission accomplished. Job well done.

Women will almost never book the first option. She’ll want to assess the four or five best candidates to make the perfect choice. One might have a free cocktail hour, while another includes parking. Or perhaps a third offers a world-class spa. If she looks at the details, she will learn which hotel she prefers.

Why Do Women Ask SO Many Questions?When Westin introduced their “Heavenly Bed,” they found it spiked their sales 21% in the first year. What does a heavenly bed even mean? Do you need one for a good night’s sleep? What makes it so wonderful? Curiosity drove women to give it a try. All other options being equal, you might as well choose the heavenly bed!

Here’s great news about selling to women: they care about the things that differentiate you from your competitors! And that’s why they ask so many questions.

 

Closing the Sale with Women

Women’s “Perfect Answer” Requires a Longer Sales Process

Here’s a critical difference between women and men when it comes to closing a sale: while men seek to make a good decision, women are looking for the Perfect Answer. As a result:

  • Expect a lot more questions from women
  • Expect a longer decision process

Closing the Sale with Women

Cowboys and Sharpshooters

Salespeople are trained to try to close the sale in the initial meeting. That may work with men because they have a faster decision process. Making decisions from the fly and “shooting from the hip” is one way men communicate their autonomy and decisiveness– the “cowboy factor.” But women are marksmen, not cowboys– and if you rush them or push them while they’re trying to zero in on what they want, all you’re going to do it irritate them.

Women want to consider, compare and talk it over with trusted advisors. It’s not enough for the product or service to meet her needs; it must be the best way to meet her needs.

Selling to women can be frustrating in this respect, but I’d advise you to refocus your attention on what you’re going to do to follow up instead of pushing too hard right away. Otherwise, she will start to distrust your motives (you’re supposed to be her agent, not her adversary!) and destroy all that great rapport you’ve been building up during the sales process.

 

Marketing to Women Requires Focus

There are a million great marketing tactics you could use to target women. But not all of them will work for your brand. And you can’t afford them all, anyway.

To help women identify your brand as The Perfect Answer, your marketing team must identify the one or two stages in the purchasing process that have the most opportunity for increasing your business. I call women’s purchasing process the Spiral Path (Unlike men, women spiral through each phase of the decision-making process, and may revisit previous steps when she learns new information).

Women’s Spiral Buying Path

How Women Buy: The Spiral Path

Concentrate most of your marketing tactics on the most important stage, rather than spreading your marketing budget across the entire decision process. Nobody has enough money to do a good job across the entire process.

There are a million great marketing tactics you could use to target women. But not all of them will work for your brand. And you can’t afford them all, anyway. To help women identify your brand as The Perfect Answer, your marketing team must identify the one or two stages in the purchasing process that have the most opportunity for increasing your business. I call women’s purchasing process the Spiral Path (Unlike men, women spiral through each phase of the decision-making process, and may revisit previous steps when she learns new information): Concentrate most of your marketing tactics on the most important stage, rather than spreading your marketing budget across the entire decision process. Nobody has enough money to do a good job across the entire process. Use your chosen strategy as your screener—unless a tactic has a laser-like focus on the purchase path you decided would do your brand the most good, don’t bother with it. It will only defuse your message and defuse your marketing efforts. And it can be quite freeing to have the power to say “no” to a tactic. For instance, if your brand would benefit most from a focus on Activation, use tactics that will awaken the need for your product in women, such as consumer education workshops, sponsorships or article placement. Tactics such as special offers and loyalty programs probably won’t be effective at this stage of the decision-making process. Or, say your most important marketing goal is Retention and Recommendation—helping the customer stay committed to your brand and improving your customer relationship. You might engage in a referral benefits program or improvements to your customer support call center. In this case, you might ignore mass-market advertisement altogether. The bottom line: do your research; pick your marketing strategy and stick with it. If your brand has a consistently appealing message to women in the most important decision-making stage, women will take notice and reward you with their purchases.Use your chosen strategy as your screener—unless a tactic has a laser-like focus on the purchase path you decided would do your brand the most good, don’t bother with it. It will only defuse your message and defuse your marketing efforts. And it can be quite freeing to have the power to say “no” to a tactic.

For instance, if your brand would benefit most from a focus on Activation, use tactics that will awaken the need for your product in women, such as consumer education workshops, sponsorships or article placement. Tactics such as special offers and loyalty programs probably won’t be effective at this stage of the decision-making process.

Or, say your most important marketing goal is Retention and Recommendation—helping the customer stay committed to your brand and improving your customer relationship. You might engage in a referral program or improvements to your customer support call center. In this case, you might ignore mass-market advertisement altogether.

The bottom line: do your research; pick your marketing strategy and stick with it. If your brand has a consistently appealing message to women in the most important decision-making stage, women will take notice and reward you with their purchases.

Selling to Women: Answer Every Question Thoroughly

Selling to Women: Answer Every Question ThoroughlyDuring the sales process, women have a longer list of wants and are voracious information seekers. So no matter how trivial or irrelevant her question may seem to you, answer it.

Some salespeople think they are helping women customers by keeping conversations focused on what matters– trying to be efficient and maybe even considerate of her time. But if your response to her question is, “Well, that’s really not what’s important here,” you’ve lost the sale and offended the customer.

If she says it’s important– and if she’s talking about it, that’s what she’s saying– it’s important.

Selling to Women Requires You to Understand Your Competition

Selling to Women: Answer Every Question ThoroughlyOne area I’ve heard several women comment on it salesmen’s unwillingness or inability to answer questions on how the product compares to the competition.

When my friend Pam was shopping, she asked one salesman, “Why should I buy this car instead of that competitive make and model?” She took it as a given that anyone doing due diligence on such an expensive purchase would compare several options. In her mind, she was giving the salesperson an opportunity to showcase his product’s advantages. His answer?

“You just can’t compare the two.”
“Why not?” she pressed.
Again, he said, “You just can’t.”

This salesperson lost the sale because he didn’t know his competition as well as she did– and he tried to make her feel dumb for asking a perfectly reasonable question. Interesting sales strategy.

Contrast that experience with the next dealership where they were prepared to answer the same question with details on their product’s advantages compared to the competition– newer engine design, more headroom, slightly better gas mileage, and so on.

To women, research and data are key elements to finding the Perfect Answer. So, please, make sure to answer her questions thoroughly.

Top 3 Marketing to Women Approaches in Banking

In “Banking Made Better: Marketing to Women Case Study,” I discuss the future of marketing banking and financial services to women. To make these concepts clearer, I’m providing contemporary examples of the marketing to women strategies I helped ACTON Marketing develop. Here are online examples of the top three marketing to women approaches in banking today.

5/3 Bank – ‘Curious’ Brand Positioning

Women’s social currency is storytelling and sharing personal details. They are most interested in how banks’ products and services help people in situations like their own. 5/3 Bank’s series of ads focuses on people’s goals and dreams and shows the bank as a partner in consumers’ lives. They leave explanation of the details to personal conversations with the bank’s employees or further research on the website.

Top 3 Marketing to Women Approaches in Banking

Styling itself as “The Curious Bank,” 5/3 Bank assures consumers that they want to learn about you, your goals and what’s important in your life.

Top 3 Marketing to Women Approaches in Banking

Huntington Bank – Welcoming, Transparent and Friendly

Top 3 Marketing to Women Approaches in BankingWomen are people-powered but are also savvy consumers. Huntington Bank honors these traits through a friendly, transparent approach with their tagline “Welcome” and product “Asterisk-Free Checking.” Instead of offering several competing checking accounts, Huntington focuses on one account that is:

“Free to open. Free to maintain. Free from minimum balance requirements. Free from monthly maintenance fees. And most importantly, free from asterisks.”

For women, that also means free from pouring over fine print and comparing details with Huntington’s competitors in search of the Perfect Answer.

Bank of America – Doing Good

Polishing your corporate halo is an excellent way to appeal to women. Right on Bank of America’s home page, they tastefully tout their “Student Leadership Program,” described as:

Top 3 Marketing to Women Approaches in Banking

“Our Student Leaders® program connects young leaders with employment that helps to give them the necessary tools and resources they need to advance. Through the Student Leaders® program, we recognize high school juniors and seniors who step outside of the classroom to contribute service in their own communities and beyond. Student Leaders® are awarded paid summer internships with local nonprofit organizations and participate in a Student Leadership Summit held in Washington, D.C.”

Other “Leadership and Service” programs include Neighborhood Builders, volunteering opportunities and Global Ambassadors.

These are only three approaches financial institutions can employ in marketing to women—but they are very effective approaches. They are also good examples of how marketing to women’s gender culture elevates an industry or category as a whole. Men and women both have benefitted from product improvements and marketing evolutions seen in the banking world. Remember the days before free checking when banking products were sold using black and white tables of numbers and disclaimers? No thanks!

 

Men Are So Emotional! Why Women Are Better Buyers

Many male financial advisors have a reluctant attitude about selling to women. They think,

“Women are too much trouble! They ask too many questions! They don’t know what they want! They take forever to make up their minds!”

And it’s true– women ask a LOT of questions.

Men Are So Emotional! Why Women Are Better BuyersWomen don’t know what they want until they do their research on the subject. When searching for a financial planner, she’ll keep an open mind, explore all her options and change her decision criteria based on new learning.

But men will impulsively act on a “hot tip” and go for it– men are the true emotional buyers in many categories! Women are the researchers.

And yes, it does take women a long time to make up their minds. They are investing time in finding the right financial advisor. They want the Perfect Answer on the first try and don’t ever want to have to go through this process again. Men’s attitude is something like, “Oh, I’ll buy from anyone. And I’ll buy the next one from anyone else.”

Women will stick with you after buying from you the first time. She’ll be confident that she made the best choice. That sounds pretty loyal, doesn’t it? And that’s why women are better buyers.

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.”

[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!

Complete the Puzzle When Marketing to Women

For women consumers, a single purchase is just one piece of the puzzle. If your marketing strategies can help her find the missing pieces, she’ll reward you with purchases, loyalty and referrals.

When she buys a pair of dress pants, for instance, it’s usually just one part of a new outfit intended for a particular purpose, say, a job interview. Marketing professionals should remember that women look forward to and emphasize milestones in their lives. Women usually organize purchases around those milestones, as well.

Department stores already do a good job of grouping multiple items that go together. Whereas men’s apparel is usually organized by type (shirts, jackets, slacks, etc.), women’s apparel is usually organized by outfits. Women who come in intending to buy a new pair of slacks generally leave with a coordinating blouse, sweater, and perhaps, a jacket as well.

Websites and catalogs are able to take this a step further and integrate the belt, shoes and jewelry into the outfit. Popular retailer Anthropologie is masterful at marketing to women in this way. Their regular emails usually highlight an appealing “look” and offer all the pieces for purchase, right on one page. Here’s an example of an outfit suggestion:

Complete the Puzzle When Marketing to Women

The brand also provides “Look Book” suggestions of how to coordinate different products for a beautiful style. Just check out this cool and breezy living room:

Complete the Puzzle When Marketing to Women

Lots of other retailers can take this marketing approach, both online and in-store. Home improvement stores have started with kitchen and bath “collections.” Banks could implement more milestone-related marketing, and even restaurants could group meal components together instead of the traditional organization of “Appetizer, Entrée, Drinks.”

I challenge marketing to women professionals to think creatively about how they organize their products and services for sale—what makes the most sense for your warehouse might not be ideal for women consumers.

How Men and Women Shop Differently

Jack and Jill went shopping for slacks, and Jill spent more than twenty-six times as much as Jack on this shopping trip. Marketers and salespeople– who would you rather have as your customer? In this marketing to women video, learn why Jill is the big spender, and how you can attract her shopping dollars.

Watch the video: How Men and Women Shop Differently

In this humorous example of shopping for slacks, marketing to women expert Marti Barletta illustrates how men and women shop differently. Men want a good solution. Women seek the perfect answer.