Selling To Women: Why it Differs from Selling to Men

Topic(s): decision making, gender
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: How Women Decide
Authors: Cathy Benko and Bill Pelster
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

Deloitte Consulting is giving new meaning to the term “cross-selling,” a term in every consultant’s vernacular. In a nutshell, the traditional use of the word refers to the selling of additional products or solutions to existing clients.

After losing several potential clients to competing firms, Deloitte did some internal investigation to understand why they were not successful on these projects. They found something quite interesting; selling to women differs from selling to men.

I know what you’re thinking… Isn’t that obvious? Well, in some fields it’s not as obvious as you’d think. Considerable market research has been done regarding female preferences in the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sphere, but Deloitte’s research shows that gender differences have important implications for B2B (Business-to-Business) transactions as well. As a result of these findings, the firm designed a special training program to teach partners and senior managers how to better engage female client executives. Below are a few of the major highlights outlined in this article.

    • Women see meetings with potential contractors as an opportunity to discuss different possibilities and explore their options with knowledgeable professionals; men see these meetings as an opportunity to narrow down their options and decide on the best course of action.

 

    • Women nod their heads during a conversation to express interest in what you’re saying and to encourage you continue; men nod their heads to signal that they are familiar with what you’re saying or agree with you and would like to move on.

 

  • Male clients want to feel powerful. They want you to try to impress them by rolling out the red carpet when they arrive, and arranging for them to meet with your most impressive executives. Women, on the other hand, want to talk to the people with whom they’ll be working most closely, be that the CEO or a line manager.

A good understanding of these differences has obvious advantages. If a company greets a female client with the same mindset and meeting schedule they would present to a male client, time is wasted. As a result client and contractor alike may lose out on advantageous opportunities.