How to Sell Interior Products to Men or Women

In our final posting of the week in celebration of International Womens Day we have a posting for men by our Dreamweaver – Phil – on Selling To Women:

Men like Stop Lights & Women prefer Roundabouts!

 

Trends, consumers, business, sales, marketing, interiors

Get a Big Cat she said!

“The 1st thing perhaps to state is that what you are about to read is the humble opinion & experience of 1 man only and is not intended to offend anyone, or to be anything more than something for you to consider.  Some of the opinion and ideas offered are derived from generalisations of specific experiences – now is that clear boys!?  After all, how can you take seriously a guy whose job title is ‘Dreamweaver’!  They are opinions from a man’s viewpoint about how to successfully engage with women in business and maybe a little in life.  During International Womens Day celebrations, an event we don’t have, we (men) need all the help we can get at a time when the smarter anyway sex, feel at their strongest because they really know how to use ‘group power’ in a way we don’t even realise exists!

In general (as I said) when it comes to any sort of work environment, men & women see themselves in some sort of competition.  Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their reactions toward women in business to be influenced on some level and to some degree; by the ideas placed into our heads as a result of the evolutionary process.  And not to be completely exonerated, women (in general) will be ‘on guard’ for the same reason.  In today’s world we all (I know I do) like to think that we have gone beyond this and to a very large and positive degree we have.  But here’s the thing that I have learned – women have learned how to cope with the situation and then use it much more than men have, or probably ever will.  Particularly when it comes to a sales/purchasing activity.  In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in these 2 roles.  Managing a person requires influencing their behaviour and actions and in doing so selling ideas and solutions to them.  We need in business to negotiate something with someone every day.  It is not only when with suppliers or clients that this is done.  So in most respects women are very good in these areas because we men have over decades forced them to negotiate/sell/contract in almost every aspect of their lives.  Our (men’s) only advantage left (not a great word but for now the best I could think of) is that not all of them have realised this yet!

I have spent all of my adult working life (being very young that’s not so long!) learning about people in order that I can improve my abilities to sell, manage & develop them in business.  At the age of 18 a great guy and mentor to me – Graham Petty – gave me a gift one Christmas; a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends & Influence People and being a man I read the 6 principles in it and then took the next couple of decades to accept that Dale was right!  The most important skill required in business, if not in life, is found in this book.  In general men, and oddly in particular salesmen, are not very good at this skill even though they think that they are.  Women however, seem to have a natural flair and ability for it even when they are talking!  What is it I hear you ask – it is LISTENING.  So if you want to be good at selling to women then you have to get on board double quick with the idea that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and at the very least should use them in that proportion.

In dealing with the modern woman in business you must have a high degree of confidence, excellent knowledge of your subject, a good memory and flexibility.  Now I will tell you why this is my opinion. 

 Confidence:

In general women spot weaknesses readily and seem to then place them to one side without feeling the need to exploit them.  But they have this knack of letting you know (when they are ready) that they have spotted this but will not exploit it.  Have a guess what that does to the weakness?  Men also spot weaknesses, but we are a little blunt, quick and basic in our attempts to then highlight the weakness as we see it as a competition (irrelevant of whether we are speaking to a man or a woman).  Guess what this induces in our opponent – the same weakening of the weakness that a woman can induce?  Nope!  An aggressive gladiatorial defence mechanism – well done guys, way to go!

Some guys (well most actually) when engaging with women in business suddenly experience/develop an infant like understanding of our language.  Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance, know–it-all and condescension in the misguided belief this will impress a woman or ‘show her how it’s done’ – oops!

So development a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with a woman.

Excellent Knowledge:

Men like to be sold to, or to believe that they have made a buying decision – you see to us it is all a competition no matter who we are dealing with.  It is a challenge, a game however the process is described we see it as something to win.  A woman simply doesn’t.  She wants a fair and equitable deal where she feels comfortable that the process was beneficial to both parties.  In fact, in general, women are prepared to come out of the ‘deal’ slightly worse off than those she engages with as long as it feels good for all and she in essence achieves her goal.  How dangerous is that?  What this all means is that to conduct business successfully with a woman, you must simply provide information of a high quality in a truthful way and then wait and listen for the questions.  A woman will lead you to the sales you seek without the ‘combat zone’ that as men we believe is an essential part of the process.  Remember 2 key facts: Women will inherently distrust a man until he demonstrates he is trustworthy.  Men generally give men the benefit of the doubt and so we are not expecting the reverse and so may not take the right opening shots.  Women will inherently not believe marketing messages but will look for confirmation.  Men?  Well how many of us challenge a Ferrari advert before we have decided that we just want to drive it?

So develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it – if you do not know never try to ‘flannel’ a woman – they have built-in radar for that, thanks to our actions over 100’s of years!

Good Memory:

A simple short subject (especially as you get older!).  In a group women discuss things but not with any particular structure or in any particular order.  Men like order, straight lines, agenda’s and time blocks.  Women don’t need these things I have found.  If you let their conversation flow and listen very carefully, they cover enormous ground and everything they need to and in the end spit out a conclusion that is as good as any group of guys – and this has often left me thinking “where the heck did that come from it could n’t have been this conversation?”  And is it just to annoy us or confuse us, but more than 1 woman will speak at once and ‘they’ all hear all whilst we hear the loudest – it’s really weird.  So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology, let it flow and listen well and develop the ability to remember key points.  They will.       

Flexibility:

This is the best saved until the last…all men in business need to know this one.  It will save so much time and provide so much more enjoyment and success.  It links everything said above and is the point of my title.

Men love straight lines, turning left and turning right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start and enjoy having the rules.  Men sit revving their engines for the unspoken competition, guidance and structure that stop lights at road junctions the world over                                 provide.

Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, get to their destination after they have had time to drink in things that they see en route.  Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules apply with courtesy, forgiveness and if you make a mistake no matter just go round again you’ll get to the intended                                 route again in the end.

We happen to be in Interiors where it is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions.  Personally, I have concluded that a woman somewhere makes the larger portion of decisions in all walks of life – they just don’t shout about it so much because they are used to (thanks to us yada yada…) not getting the credit publicly and can live with that happily.  

So take a look at your retail outlet /design plans / design schemes / products and see if they reflect the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman; and do the processes that you have in place reflect and accommodate the way a woman thinks and behaves?”

What advice do you have on this subject? Leave your comment let me know…..

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One thought on “How to Sell Interior Products to Men or Women

  1. Hi Phil, I thinks your observations are – in my experience at least – pretty close to the mark. I certainly prefer roundabouts, although I can understand that some people like a more direct route! Now I have a new way of thinking about my processes… and as I mainly deal with men, I will need to try to see things from a different perspective for a change!

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