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!



This entry was posted in Financial Services, Selling to Women, Things women care about, Women as customers and tagged , , , , , on by .

About Marti

To The Huffington Post, she’s “the High Priestess of Marketing to Women;” to TIME magazine, “the Chief Rabbi of the Sheconomy.” Renowned business guru Tom Peters calls her “the First Lady of Marketing to Women” and says she “is one of the best presenters, male or female, I’ve ever seen.” Marti Barletta shows you how to get more customers, make more money per customer and keep customers loyal longer - simply by getting smarter about women. Her first book, Marketing to Women, is available in 19 languages,” and her latest book, PrimeTime Women, focuses in on the market’s high-spending sweet spot - Boomer women in their mid-life prime – and shows marketers how to use this prime segment’s growth, size and buying power to propel their business for the next 20 years. As the go-to authority on marketing to women, women in leadership and women’s growing role in shaping the 21st century, Barletta has been quoted on CBS, ABC, MSNBC and NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, Fast Company, TIME, Business Week, Inc., and many other publications worldwide. Ms. Barletta’s consulting clients have included Diageo, Ford, Kodak, Pfizer, Volvo Worldwide and others. A popular speaker internationally, she has enjoyed rave reviews on every continent except Antarctica, including in Australia, Chile, Dubai, Japan and Sweden. She has spoken for hundreds of companies, conferences and associations; and across dozens of industries, including consumer products, financial services, travel and tourism, retail and real estate development, to name a few. She is proud to say that numerous clients have booked her for return appearances. Her dynamic style, command of her subject and passion for her topic make her a popular speaker. Audiences love her practical tactics tailored to the interests of each audience, her lively style and sense of humor, and her memorable stories about men, women and marketing. Specialties:I show you how to attract more customers, keep them longer, and earn more money from every customer simply by getting smarter about today's mightiest market - women.

15 thoughts on “Watch Out for this Crucial Cue when Selling to Women

  1. Camille - Paisley Grace Boutique

    This is soooo interesting and really makes so much sense when you think about it! Women are intuitive and truly expect that you will get their non-verbal cues. We need to “watch” what they are saying if we expect to earn their trust and make a sale. Great post!

  2. Doug

    My wife is ALWAYS lecturing me on this stuff for our customer service in our tow business . Of course me, being male, I always blabber on and on and forget to listen. Our customer base is mostly women because men don’t like to call a towing company unless they absolutely need it, whereas women are more inclined to pick up the phone and call for help. I just need to get better at learning to listen and read body language. We’ll see if that ever happens haha!

    1. Marti Post author

      Nice job on your website! Quick thought: if most of your customers are women, it wouldn’t hurt to put a picture of you/your employees somewhere on the home page. Women feel very vulnerable when they are stranded, and knowing whom to expect to show up is very reassuring!

  3. Luke

    I’m wondering if matters much anymore… more and more women are in leadership positions and own businesses. I even know a woman who owns a towing business who is the owner. One might assume that it would be a man that would.

    You might be right – but I think the genders are getting closer and closer together.

    Are your thoughts still the same as when you wrote this?


    1. Marti Post author

      Hey, Tony – Super-easy: Just stay aware, and if she starts out nodding while you’re speaking, watch for when she stops. At that point say “Does that sound right to you?” or “Is that what you had in mind?” or something to that effect. Then wait a beat or two to give her time to form her response. Don’t just jump right back in and re-explain.


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