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
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
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
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 amazon.com 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
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
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
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, www.renaissanceurns.com. She can be reached
at 800-465-0553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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