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Gender Bender: Why Women-Owned Businesses Are Beating the Recession

When selling to female business owners, do not mention "doom and gloom." Women are working from an entirely different point of view, with many reporting they aren't intimidated by the recession. In fact, a lot of female entrepreneurs are moving forward at the speed of light…and they need your product and service solutions more than ever.

But wait! Before you pick up that phone to make a sales call, let me give you a glimpse of what's going on behind the scenes. Then you'll know exactly how to position your sales strategy.

The eWomenNetwork, Inc., a women's business network of 500,000-plus members, recently surveyed nearly 4,000 businesswomen from across the U.S. and Canada. The organization wanted to hear firsthand how members are handling the economic downturn. And the survey responses may surprise you.

Women Are Charging Ahead

The feedback was dazzling. When asked, "What words best describe how you feel about the current economic situation as it relates to your business?" 72.5 percent of the respondents chose "Charging ahead with a positive outlook," as their number one response.

When asked to respond to the statement, "Even though the economy is in bad shape, I am…," comments ranged from "unwilling to be victimized by the sensationalized [information], and often misinformation, in the 'news,'" to "feeling very positive about the future."

Your sales strategy: Avoid starting any conversation with, "Wow, did you see the news last night?" It will backfire. If you and your message don't fit with her prospect's attitude of "I'm going for it, no matter what," you're out. And in this market, she has lots of buying options.

Faster than you can ask, "Was it something I said?" she can fire off an e-mail to her personal and professional contacts asking for referrals. Within minutes, she will have collected the names of numerous recommended vendors and service providers. So now, more than ever, you must be upbeat, optimistic, and helpful, which leads us to the next point.

Women Think the Time Is Right to Expand

A whopping 74 percent of businesswomen think the time is right to grow and expand their business. Many female business owners are choosing to see the glass as half full, and they have a lot to say on the topic. One business owner summed up her do-or-die mentality like this: "Now is the perfect time to expand because so many people are 'frozen' or 'waiting' to see what is going to happen, which means to me that they are not moving at all."

Comments were also made about the use of ingenious methods to increase business. The following are just two examples of what women had to say on the topic: "This is when business owners get creative [about] how they can grow and expand their business." "[I am] constantly looking for new and innovating ways to market my business, and really thinking outside of the box!"

It seems the women who are moving their companies forward are doing so with gusto. Talk about an optimistic market for a seller to tap into! There are female business owners out there who are actually excited to grow their companies, and you may have the ideal resources to help them. So the big question becomes, do you agree there are opportunities for growth in this market?

Your sales strategy: This is a very good time do a mindset check-in. Ask yourself, "What are my beliefs about this economy?" If you don't like what you hear, deal with it.

You know what I'm talking about: the nagging inner voice that says, "I have to make this sale, or else." Women pick up on clues from body language and tone of voice. If you don't believe people can do well in this market, your buyer will sense it.

Combat any internal negativity immediately. Adopt a positive mantra. Here's a good one: "Everything is unfolding in perfect order-and I will be writing up the perfect order!" It's time to let your expertise shine. So begin by reminding yourself how valuable you are.

And while you're at it, throw away your sales script. Before you make any product or service suggestions, ask your client, "Where would you like to see your business in six months to a year?" Listen and follow up with, "How can I assist you to achieve your goals?"

Te take-home message is, when selling to female business owners, it's not all doom and gloom out there. Many women are on a mission to succeed. Why not make it your mission to help them reach or exceed their goals?

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.