It's about to become a little more difficult.
In 2007 the number of females graduating from college exceeded the number of male graduates. The gap continues to grow. The scales are also tipping towards the female side in graduate schools, community colleges and technical schools. The gender disparity salesmen have enjoyed is going away. Are your seasoned salesmen ready? In fact, are all of your salespeople ready?
Before, the "only" things the sales professional needed to know about a prospect was:
Where they are positioned in the client's organization (do they understand the difference in cost and price?)
Their behavioral style (DISC or Myers Briggs)
Their demographic (Historian, Boomer, Buster, Gen-X or Milleneal/NetGen)
Their company's situation
- Position in their market
- Health of the organization
- Corporate objectives
How well we have served them in the past
Now we add gender and a possible host of new variables.
Fortunately some ongoing studies are being conducted to examine the difference in behaviors between the genders. We cannot generalize or stereotype, of course. We can identify some typical traits - especially how the majority of women in B2B purchasing positions evaluate opportunities.
The Good News
There is good news here. Pew Research reported that the majority of women surveyed will take an analytical approach to evaluating proposals. They may appear less confrontational but they are more likely to request substantiation for any claims and a quantified justification for additional costs.
If you are already doing consultative selling supported by a qualified and quantified needs analysis and you're accustomed to giving your customers a qualified and quantified cost justification, you will have little difficulty selling to the other gender.
This goes for females selling to males as well. The professional sales approach you have been developing is about to become your best asset.
I'm often asked about the intuitive nature women bring to the table. It's the same thing as a man's "gut feel". It's just that women are better at cultivating their intuition and - are you ready for this? - in business they use analysis to make it work better and better for them.
Look, we cannot fool kids, dogs and customers. They know who's shooting straight with them. The more time your salespeople spend pre-call planning and developing a cohesive, justifiable proposal, the more successful you will be with any customer.
Are your people are up to date on their consultative selling skills?
Do they have the tools they need to address every type of buyer?
Add the gender impact to your pre-call planning. Make it a part of your Client Profile as well.
Prepare your sales team now:
Stress the importance of solution selling.. It will work for sophisticated buyers of every ilk. Business Function Selling can be a real asset here.
Listen closely to your seasoned salesmen and detect and correct anything you hear that may be potentially problematic.
Keep the main thing the main thing. Companies are running lean and mean right now. Focus on business by keeping establishing rapport short and having a solid presentation - including a qualified and quantified cost justification - ready to go.
If you understand P.L.U.S.H. Selling, concentrate on Positioning and Listening.
Chuck Reaves CSP, CSPAE, CSO