Aug. 17/24; Volume 30/Number 5
By Phil Pond
When it comes to any work environment in general, men and women tend to see themselves in some sort of competition. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their actions toward women in business to be influenced on some level by the ideas placed into their heads by the evolutionary process. And not to be completely exonerated, but women are usually on guard for the same reason.
In today’s world we like to think we have progressed beyond this point; to a large degree we have, but there is one thing I’ve noticed: Women have learned how to cope with that status quo and how to use it to their advantage, particularly when it comes to sales. In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in sales. Managing a person requires influencing his or her behavior and actions and, in doing so, selling ideas and solutions.
In business we need to negotiate something with someone every day, and not only with suppliers or clients. So in most respects women excel in these areas because men have forced them to negotiate in almost every aspect of their lives over decades. Because a majority of your customer base is female, following are some skills men should improve upon.
When engaging with women in business, some men suddenly develop an infant-like understanding of language. Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance and condescension in the misguided belief that this will impress a woman or “show her how it’s done.” Be sure to develop a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with women.
To conduct business successfully with women, you must provide information of a high quality in a truthful way, then wait and listen for the questions. Women will lead you to the sale you seek without the combat zone that men believe is an essential part of the process. Develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it.
In general, women discuss things without any particular structure or in any particular order. Men like order, agendas and time blocks. I have found that women don’t need these things. If you let her conversation flow and listen carefully, she will cover enormous ground and, in the end, propose a great conclusion. So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology; let it flow, listen well and develop the ability to remember key points.
Men love straight lines, turning left and right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start, and enjoy following rules. Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, and get to their destinations after they have had time to take in things they see en route. Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules applies with courtesy and forgiveness; if you make a mistake it’s OK, just go round again and don’t repeat the error.
It is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions in flooring. So take a look at your business and see if it reflects the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman. Do the processes you have in place accommodate the way women think and behave?