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Gender Bender: Rolling with a Woman's New Buying Habits

Wow, this economy's taken more twists and turns than a roller coaster, hasn't it? Consumer spending has been down one month and up the next. Meanwhile, the jobless rate continues to climb, and economists are hard-pressed to say how and when things will level out. The sky may not be falling, but things have certainly changed.

Nevertheless, hanging a going-out-of-business sign on your door would be a tad premature. When it comes to selling to women, be reassured that once you know about their new buying habits, you'll be able to keep going—no matter what. Consider the following:

1. She really needs to trust you. Women now put more thought than ever into their spending decisions. So who do we turn to guide us in the buying process? It's the company or seller that we trust.

Your response: Become an industry expert. You can build trust by becoming an industry expert. The process begins well in advance of any sale. When working with women in business, you can build rapport by mailing articles of interest. You can also call or e-mail to share relevant industry facts, tips, and information. I know of sellers who go out of their way to pass on networking and business leads to potential and existing clients.

When selling to female consumers you can easily set yourself apart from others. Something as simple as developing a buying tip sheet positions you as a trusted advisor. Think of the top concerns you've heard about your product/service and turn it into "the most important things to consider when making this purchase." You could also blog and tweet about issues and information relevant to your audience. Women turn to social networking as a way to connect with others and to seek out useful resources.

2. She wants assurance that you understand her. For years, women were stuck with the clueless seller who bore greater resemblance to a used car salesman: the sort of person who yakked at her and then used high-pressure tactics to close the deal.

Well, things have changed. This is her buying market now. If a woman senses you don't understand her needs, she has so many other options. There are lots of sellers competing for her purchasing dollar.

Your response: Shift your focus. More than ever you must take the focus off of any desire to make the sale. This is the time to talk with her and not at her. It's vital to find out her real needs. It's also the only way that she'll believe you really understand. Remember, in this new marketplace she no longer has to risk being undersold or oversold.

3. She turns to you for real solutions. Women have been blogging about how they assess potential purchases as either a necessity or a luxury. When money gets tight, guess which wins out? Yep, necessity items are outselling the "nice to have" goods and services.

Don't even think about spouting off generic selling benefits such as, "This will save you time [is a great investment]." She's not buying it. More than ever women are weighing the real advantages of committing to your goods and services.

Your response: Identify and focus on real value. Before you meet with her, determine what your buyer will actually get for the money. To do this, write up a quick list of your offering's typical benefits. If, like most sellers, you end up with a generic sampling of benefits similar to those listed above, there's a next step you can take.

Read each benefit aloud and ask yourself, "So what?" Delving deeper uncovers the true value of what you're selling. Then you can make a statement like, "This solution reduces your workload by 50 percent." Now you'll have her full buying attention.

Final Thoughts

It is absolutely possible to thrive in this crazy economy. The secret is to adapt your sales approach and meet your buyer on her terms.

Kelly McCormick is a regular columnist for SMM. She is also the author of the forthcoming book "OutSell Yourself." To obtain her sales e-tips, in addition to information on her sessions, keynote talks, and tele-classes, visit www.outsellyourself.com or call 800-889-9637.