How to Sell to Women, Are You Tapping the Gold Mine?

By Mary Hickey

Futurist Faith Popcorn calls it "the dominant economic force in the country."
There are 190 million of them in the U.S. They have $4.4 trillion in buying power. They purchase 81% of all products and services, and they influence most of the rest of purchases. They are responsible for 85% of the checks written. Forty-seven percent of them are stockholders. Forty percent of households with assets of more than $600,000 are headed by them. They make 67% of funeral arrangements. Who are they? Women.

There are five basic factors to keep in mind when selling to women:

1. Women create relationships.
Before women want to know about your products and services, they want to get to know you. Listen first. Women want to feel comfortable with whom they are working before they buy. Women want to create an authentic personable interaction with you.

2. Women want a pleasurable experience.
They are looking for an organization they can connect to and with whom they can have a pleasurable experience. The next time you walk into Nordstrom’s notice the person playing the beautiful piano; notice the coffee cart and beautiful wood everywhere. Women want a shopping experience to be pleasurable.

3. Women often buy from the periphery.
Starbucks is a perfect example of how to take advantage of this. Notice how their stores have CDs on the counter. The coffee company knows women like music but won't usually take the time to actively purchase any.

4. Women care about whom they buy from.
They will pay up to 20% more for a product if they feel that the business owner is trying to make the world or the community a better place.

5. Women want you to help simplify their lives.
Most women are doing the work of four people. They are (or were) a wife, a mother, perhaps a grandmother, and often business women too. No wonder why women are stressed out! Make it easy to do business with you.

Women can see right through any standard sales pitch. In general, they respond to a Dale Carnegie rule that says, "People want to know how much you care before they care about how much you know." In selling pre-need or at-need products and services, it is paramount that you listen to their story as you would a good friend. I am proposing you sincerely make a new friend, not just a customer. Men, on the other hand, want to get in and get out. They don’t want to talk about their feelings. Men in general don’t talk about their feelings and, especially, not to a sales person. Men want to take care of business. Women want to feel like they have a relationship with you men want efficiency.

Getting it Right
Sweat the Details
Pay close attention to their entire experience with your firm. Work at making their experience as enjoyable as possible during a very difficult time. Is the parking lot free of pot holes, ice or oil stains? Are your windows clean? Is the front door clean? Do you offer to carry the urn or their husbands’ personal items to their car? Is the bathroom cleaned regularly? Believe it or not, I’ve visited many funeral homes and the bathrooms are downright dirty. Offer her a beverage and present it in a clean glass or beautiful tea cup with a saucer on a silver tray. Men are okay with styrofoam, but women will appreciate the china. These are the types of everyday experiences that are important to women.

Sell to their peripheral vision.
Information about all of your products and services should be readily available. You may want to consider installing a literature rack near the ladies’ room. Do you sell acknowledgement cards? What about books on grieving? By offering these peripheral products, you also make their lives easier. Why should they go to or Borders to buy a book on grieving when you are the expert? Why not offer a line of tasteful acknowledgement cards so they don’t have to go out and buy them somewhere else?

Get out of the funeral home, and meet people where they work, play and volunteer.
Be where they are going.
Be more than just brick and mortar. Sponsor "lunch break" talks on pre-planning the funeral either for them or their parents at some of the larger companies in your area. Sponsor a breast cancer walk. Consider partnering with local gyms, spas, and family practices to offer grief counseling and end-of-life planning. This also let's them know that you are visible and care about the community.

Offer Convenience and Guidance.
Women want convenience and a simpler life. Why do you think pre-washed lettuce in a bag has become such a large industry? It’s not because it’s cheaper; women will pay more for convenience.
Women also want to do things well and make a difference in the lives of those they care about. Your job is to help and guide them by making their decisions as simple and uncomplicated as possible. If you help them through their at-need or pre-need process and they come out feeling like they made the right decisions or you arranged and helped them through a funeral of their loved one, they’ll be singing your praise the rest of your life.

Do you sit down with them with a timeline of the funeral and offer options that can be put into the timeline? What about music? Do you offer them a selection of songs that can be downloaded from the internet and played at the service? The CDs can then be given to those in attendance. Do you offer dove releases? Have you partnered with people who might have boat, air or land scattering services? Most importantly, have you offered to coordinate all the details for them?

Find your own voice. This is not solely about catering to women — it's also about what you are passionate about. If it's planning life celebrations, then make that your area of expertise. If you identify what motivates you and what your focus is, women will be attracted to your business, and you will have a better chance of getting on their radar. This way, not only do you get more of their family and friends as repeat customers (and more sales), but you also get them to do more of what makes you happy.

Keeping Those Loyal Customers
How do you keep these customers once you get them? How’s your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system? Set up a system to remember them with a birthday card every year. Send a condolence note on the anniversary of the loved ones’ death? Send a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day with a handwritten note? Maybe a Thanksgiving card (everyone sends Christmas cards; try something different). Try and make her day; be consistent and be sincere. Women can smell a fake from a mile away.

• Because women are more inclined to long-term relationships, enhanced loyalty means every sales and marketing dollar invested in female customer acquisition results in a higher retention rate.
• Because word-of-mouth is more prevalent among women, they are more likely to refer others to businesses that impress them favorably – in essence, free marketing of the most powerful kind.

In summary, the next time you work with a female customer, take the time to get to know who she is. Think about her shopping experience with you, are you making the experience as pleasurable as possible? Try getting involved in the community so she knows you are trying to make the world a better place and most importantly make the whole process simple and easy. If you can make it effortless for her, you’ve truly done a great job.

Companies that overlook the immensity of women’s rapidly growing buying clout will find themselves fast losing ground to competitors who recognize the new force in an old phrase: the power of the purse.

Mary Hickey has a degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has 18 years experience as a marketing executive, including consulting work with companies such as Microsoft, Dole and Cisco Systems. In 2001, she co-founded Renaissance Urn Co., San Francisco, She can be reached at 800-465-0553 or
© All rights reserved