Gill Walker
Gill Walker, Owner Director, Principal CRM Business Consultant at Opsis

Sales and marketing

What are the differences in the way men and women do business?

What are the differences between the way men and women do business? Does it affect how we sell to them?

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4 Answers

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne , director at Smarthinking

Answer to both questions: No.

I don't buy in to the whole – men/logical; women/emotional debate. It's probably possible to point to generic examples of men being more competitive and women being more reflective, but as both buyers and sellers, I think we are fundamentally more influenced by personality type than gender.

My recent article post explains. Go to: Are you speaking to your prospects in Klingon?  

David Solomon

David Solomon , Business Performance Strategist at Quiddity

Hi Steve. I've read your article and I agree wholeheartedly with what you say - specifically that personality plays a major role in how best to sell to an i... read more
Hi Steve. I've read your article and I agree wholeheartedly with what you say - specifically that personality plays a major role in how best to sell to an individual. I include things like DISC, DPSA, Myers Briggs etc in all my coaching on communications and selling skills. But I disagree that you can completely ignore the gender issues. I've been working pretty much exclusively with women entrepreneurs for nearly 3 years and notwithstanding the acknowledged generalisations in my answer to Gill above, there is a distinct difference between the way men and women operate in business. Almost every woman in business I have met acknowledges this. And my evidence is more than anecdotal. The Australian Women's Chamber of Commerce has done an extensive study that backs this up as well. However, you are absolutely correct that we need to communicate with people of all genders in the manner in which THEY want to be communicated - that is, if we want to be effective as a buyer or seller.
Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne , director at Smarthinking

Hi David Thanks for reading the article and commenting. You're right, I do acknowledge there are gender differences in business. But in answer to Gill's origi... read more
Hi David Thanks for reading the article and commenting. You're right, I do acknowledge there are gender differences in business. But in answer to Gill's original question, I don't think it's as important during the sales process as the WAY we buy. In other words, if one was creating a buyer persona, would one give more or less weight to gender over problem/issue?
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Jenny Spring

Jenny Spring , Managing Director at Spring Into Sales

There are significant differences in between the way a female customer and a male customer approach the product or service they will be purchasing.

The woman will be highly observant of the sales person, whether they listen well, whether they really understand her needs. The female buyer will need to have many boxes crossed before she will proceed. She will be much harder to sell to, however, once she purchases, she will tell all of her network. So the rewards will be higher.

The man is a little more straightforward, easier to sell to. As long as you address his needs fairly quickly, and he feels like he has a win in the deal, then he'll buy. 

I know these are general statements, however I've been in corporate software sales for a long time (in the USA) and this was primarily a male-dominated industry. In the last 10 years I have owned my own import business. Primarily female customers.  

I've found that we under-estimate how difficult women are to sell to. They really need to 'buy in' to the person making the sale, as well as the product/service being purchased. Men are less attached, and therefore will buy more rapidly.

 

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Henrik Larsen

Henrik Larsen , Director at IePlus Pty Ltd

Fascinating views from both David and Steve.. Maybe some of the female members would share their perspective too?

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David Solomon

David Solomon , Business Performance Strategist at Quiddity

Great questions Gill.

There are very many differences between the way men and women do business. Of course I’m going to generalise but there are infinite shades of grey. In considering this question it is worth acknowledging that the “game” of business is a game created by men. It used to be about conquering other races – now it’s done in business (and on the sporting field).

Men will typically do business from a win-lose (or scarcity) point of view. From their perspective “Sorry – it’s nothing personal, but for me to win, you have to lose. The ‘pie’ of business is only so big, and my job is to go and carve out as big a piece of pie as I can.”

In contrast the attitude generally taken by women is, “Well here is a pie that’s only so big. Why don’t we see how we can make that pie go further? Or why not share the pie and enjoy it? Or why don’t we work at making another pie - then I can have a pie, and you can have a pie and we’ll have more pie.” So it’s very much about win-win and abundance.

Men will often go to extreme lengths to compete and win while women want a completely different business experience. So what do most women do? Some will play along with the men’s rules, but many will start their own businesses looking for win-win solutions.

This is further reflected in the differences in how men and women network (a critical precursor to selling).

Men tend to be quite perfunctory i.e. “Nice to meet you. What do you do? Can you help me?” Yes - great => next step. No - OK, nice to meet => move on.

Women tend to be more focused on "Let me find out who you are and what you are about before we see whether there is anything we can do together."

Simon Sinek says it well - people are more interested in why you do things rather than what you do.

And I think this is the key to how to sell differently to the 2 sexes. In summary, for men it’s all about performance, and for women it’s all about the relationship.

There are many more differences such as the greater reliance on rationality versus emotion that is often pointed out, but I think what is discussed above is a very significant driver.   

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