The Gender Differences in Buying Approaches
In our capacity as specialist business trainers for medical professionals, we have prepared material for training purposes on the best approach to adopt when selling to different genders. Whilst anyone working in a sales role will be fully aware of the existence of tacit differences between successful strategies for selling to men and women, until now, precious little has been published on the topic.
The discrepancies of selling to different genders are abundantly clear to anyone with experience in a sales role. At LiveseySolar, the majority of the participants on our courses are women. To understand a little more about our delegates, we like to ask each to share the most common challenges they face on a day-to-day basis, which we then address as we progress through the course. One of the most common challenges women admit to facing is selling to men.
Men selling to men
Generally speaking, men tend to have a more transactional approach to buying; with decisions based on the data they have available, the problem the service or product will solve and its cost in relation to the potential benefit.
When selling to male buyers, male salespeople tend to adopt a logically ordered approach to the sales process, which will often take the following form:
- Open the sale
- Discuss their offering
- Describe the features and the benefits
- Handle objections
- Close the sale
Flaws in the model
Until quite recently, this sales model was universally recognised and accepted as the most effective. However, in the last 20 or so years the sales climate has changed markedly, with an increasing number of women present on both the buying and selling side of the table. With women playing a more prominent role in transactions, flaws in the model are beginning to surface. These include:
- The communication is largely one directional
- There is little emphasis on relationship building
- The detail many buyers require is often ignored
- Little or no connection is made
- Closure can appear manipulative
A relationship-centred approach
The selling approach we teach mitigates many of the weaknesses identified in the above model. We take a more relationship-centred approach to selling which capitalises on a woman’s interpersonal skills to build a meaningful connection with the buyer. This is an approach that, generally speaking, women take to more quickly than men.
The buying behaviour of women is more relational than that of men. Whilst women tend to be more loyal to a particular brand, they are prepared to make a change from their preferred brand if the level of service they receive falls below par. They prefer to communicate with a salesperson they know and have built a relationship with and will let others know when they are impressed by a product or service.
Women selling to men
Although the relationship-centred model is coming increasingly to the fore, when selling to men, women must remember the gender differences and temper their selling style to ensure they stay focused, remain direct and deal in facts. When selling to men, over-communication is inadvisable.
When discussing groups of people who have been categorised as broadly as by gender, it’s important to note that references to interpersonal skills or buying preferences are, by definition, generalisations. However, generalisations can still be useful, helping to provide a guide to the approach required to sell to people we might otherwise find it difficult to empathise with.
We’d love to hear your take on the gender differences to buying and selling. Perhaps you’re a woman who has better success selling to men? What’s you approach? Contact us with your thoughts, or leave your comments below.