Monday, July 05, 2010

Gender Selling


Selling to the Opposite Sex
by Michael Dalton Johnson
Chances are the people most of us encounter in our work lives are not really from Venus or Mars. The latest evidence, scientific and anecdotal, indicates that virtually all of them are actually from Earth, no matter how other-worldly they may seem.

Being natives of the same planet, however, doesn't necessarily mean they speak the same language—especially in sales situations.

Before I proceed down this dangerous road, let me quickly say that all women and all men can't be neatly lumped into two distinct communication styles. There are exceptions and gray areas.

Generally men are focused on achieving status and avoiding failure. Men are "doers" and want to solve problems and feel competent. Women tend to be focused on achieving involvement and avoiding isolation. Women relate, connect, and want to feel acceptance. Their focus is on intimacy and relationships, whereas men focus on independence and status. In sales, successful communications is a continual balancing act which requires juggling the sexes' conflicting needs for intimacy and independence.

"There's no doubt that gender differences have a real impact on interpersonal communications," writes Will Turner, founder of Dancing Elephants Achievement Group. "In the selling world, salespeople need to understand and adapt to these differences." Turner urges salespeople dealing with customers of the opposite sex to "never assume that you understand, or are understood." Instead of assuming, presuming, or guessing the other person's meaning, he recommends "listening carefully, clarifying everything that is said and adopting a conversational style tailored to the particular customer and situation."

Women selling to men: Sell straight to the bottom line. Avoid processing your thoughts out loud. Focus on goals, tangible benefits and problems your product or service will solve. Clarity, brevity and a bottom-line focused presentation will give you the best chance of closing the sale.

Men selling to women: Listen. Agree. Be friendly and helpful. Empathize. View your meeting as an opportunity to get to know your prospect and her needs better. The sale will likely follow.

With a little practice, male "report talk" and female "rapport talk" can be successfully learned.

Michael Dalton Johnson is the founder and publisher of His new book, Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets can be seen here.

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