The mindset of female consumers has definitely changed. Moms, CEOs and women in many other roles have a whole new list of buying considerations. This is an important insight that you must grasp, and then change and incorporate into your selling style—immediately. Here's why: Females influence approximately 80% of spending decisions. And your sales success could depend on how quickly you adapt to a woman's new spending habits.
Sales Reality No. 1: Unless you're a rock star, don't flaunt the flash. Today's consumers "aren't looking for flashy items," says John Rittenhouse, chair of Cavallino LLC, which just released the 2009 Consumer Shopping Intentions Study. "And they're a bit anti-luxury, even those in higher tax brackets." The same can be said of women who do purchasing for corporations or their own businesses. Many of these women are rethinking what they buy.
Now is the time to get inside your customers' heads. Listen to what many women are silently saying: "If it isn't broken, I won't fix it" and "If I do need to buy something, it had better be good value for my money."
What this means for sellers: Unless you can prove how your goods will fix a problem or fill an important need, most women are saying, "No." To offset this new trend, you may want to make this your sales mantra for 2009: "Flashy is out; practical is in."
Sales Reality No. 2: You need to repackage your products and services to fit her world. Last week, I had a very enlightening conversation with Gail, the owner of a women’s clothing store. She casually mentioned, "For the past 18 years, my business has made it through many economic ups and downs. This latest downturn will be no different."
Over the past few months, Gail—like many sellers—has observed that women really need to justify how and where they spend their money. As a result, she's recently addressed the issue head-on. Gail rethought how to sell her merchandise. And she made some big changes: Her sales staff now encourages customers to bring in favorite pieces from their existing wardrobe. Time is spent suggesting complementary items, such as a blouse, a scarf or pants. The buyer is then able to cost-effectively turn one outfit into several!
Because Gail's staff quit trying to push the high-ticket items, which weren't moving anyway, she hasn't had to lay anyone off. Instead of losing out on big-ticket sales, she and her staff are able to sell several lower-priced items to the majority of shoppers.
Her customers love this new approach to buying clothes. It makes it possible to get their immediate needs met. Because the women are so appreciative of the store's willingness to work within their financial reality, they’re also referring friends. Gail's ability to quickly adjust her selling strategy gets two thumbs up. She turned a lemon of a market into lemonade.
What this means for sellers: Look for ways to lower a buyer's commitment. Think of how you can take a potentially big-ticket item and offer it as a series of smaller purchases. This selling strategy can work for almost any product or service.
Many professionals are frantically trying to find ways to sell their products and services in this economy. So here's my pledge to you: Over the next few months, I'll share even more information on women's changing buying habits. Plus, I'll share easy techniques to adapt your selling strategy accordingly. My goal is to help you increase your sales—without experiencing stress.
Kelly McCormick is an expert on how to OutSell Yourself™ with Women and to OutSell Yourself™ with All Buyers. She also writes a monthly column on women and sales for www.SalesandMarketingManagement.com. Her book, OutSell Yourself: How to Sell Without Selling, is soon to be released. You can get Kelly's sales e-tips and information on her sessions, keynote talks and tele-classes at www.outsellyourself.com or by calling 800-889-9637.