What Men Don’t Know

What Men Don’t Know

Even though she slipped quietly into the room, everyone stopped what they were doing to look.  The thing that you noticed first was the eyes.  In fact, she dressed to bring out their best.  The eyes, pale blue and riveting, with the cerulean blue cotton blouse and the cashmere blue blazer.

And even though her sales people wouldn’t admit it, they were awe-struck by her presence.  Sales meetings were fast paced, action packed and full of information.  And everyone participated.  After all, they were hand picked … each and every one of them. They represented the best in the industry.

There was only one thing that made this sales group different than most other sales teams.  It was entirely female.  There wasn’t a man in the room.  And she preferred it that way.  Her team produced results.

Seem strange?  It shouldn’t; it’s slowly becoming the norm.  And there’s a good reason.  Women are the world’s best sales people.  Sure, I might be out on a limb with this one, but it’s true.  Women have a definite advantage over men.  They start with certain skills that it takes most men years to develop … if they ever do at all.


Blame it on Mike

Let me start with a question.  What do Dell’s Law, computers and customers all have in common?  Here’s a hint?   Any answer you give me should describe what your customer’s wants, why they want it and how they’ve changed.   Still don’t know?  Let me answer for you.

Early in his career, Michael Dell observed that customers were evolving and behaving in a much different way than they did in the previous decade.  His observations became known as “Dell’s Law” and described how customers have changed.  In fact, he built his entire company on this observation.  What Dell noticed then … is still true today:

  • People want choices.
  • People want quality.
  • People want trustworthy brands.
  • People want a product that (exactly) matches their explicit needs.
  • And people want all of this … and they want it fast.

All you would have to do is substitute “home” for “computer” and who would know that he wasn’t the president of a homebuilding company.  Dell’s Law surely describes what customers want, but that’s just the beginning of my story.

Most people have changed their ideas about business and how it’s conducted.  Matter of fact, I can sum up business change in two words.  Customer experience.  Think about it.  How important is satisfaction today compared to ten years ago?  If I had to guess your answer it would probably be, “A bunch.”

Heck, what used to be important, stuff like land, design and marketing are now nothing more than what the competition already does.  And customer experience seems to be the “new” code word for homebuilding.  But that’s not all.

Selling is different too.  A sale today requires more than a collection of fancy techniques and managed phrases.  A sale today requires that both parties, the seller and the buyer, be fulfilled or satisfied.   And if you listen to experts, such as Tom Peters, you’d realize that they’ve gone so far as to redefine selling as “an extended collaboration”.   And if you believe what the experts say, you’d also have to admit that the selling techniques that Peters and others describe are different than those still popular in our industry.  My point?

Ideas about business have been redefined.  Ideas about customers have been redefined.  And the skills needed for success have been redefined too.  Taking this into consideration, there are “new rules” to define selling success in today’s marketplace:

  • Selling is dynamic … and is defined by the skills to manage multiple commitments (decisions)
  • Selling is collaborative … and requires working to create “win/win” situations
  • Selling is about personal relationships … and transcends trust and rapport
  • Selling is about customer satisfaction … and requires a customer focused process
  • Selling is strategic … and requires “on your feet” thinking and implementing

And if you didn’t notice, selling today revolves around the customer, not the sales person.  Matter of fact, that’s why women have advantage over men.

Why Women?

Unfortunately, there’s a higher standard for women.  It’s true in life and it’s true in business.  And because of this, women work harder … and they try harder to be deserving.  It doesn’t cause them to be better sales people, but it does make their other skills more effective.  Here’s a look at selling in today’s world and what women have that most men don’t.


Fact:  Selling today is dynamic … and requires the ability to manage multiple commitments

Think about everyday life.  Its rush here … rush there … do this … and don’t forget that.  If you think about it, women are much more practiced then men.  They manage the clamor of the conflicting commitments of their children, school, after hours events, budgets, “to do” lists and family social events.  And they do it twenty-four hours a day.

Men go to work, attend a few meetings and schedule golf.  It’s not that women are better at managing conflicting commitments, they just have more practice.


Fact:  Selling today is about collaborating … and about creating “win/win” situations

Wendy Keller, author of Secrets of Successful Negotiating for Women, says it best. “What woman wasn’t six years old once and didn’t quickly realize that “win-win” was the best way to play Barbie’s?”  And because of that, collaborating has become a natural part of a women’s life.  They naturally understand that if they’re going to win, they need to help their customer win too.  This everyday habit is also projected into their business lives.

Men, on the other hand, learned something entirely different.  From an early age they learned early that it was all about winning.  Just win, baby, win.  And guess what?  Us men are still playing “King of the Mountain”.  Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes, with respect to customers, it’s bad.  Especially, with a customer who is the one who wants to win.


Fact:  Selling today is about personal relationships … and transcends trust and rapport

Women cherish relationships.  I guess that’s no secret, but it’s more than that.  Women practice what they value.  They practice their relationships as mothers, daughters, friends, wives, parents and business people.  And they start to practice this from the time they are little girls.  More than anything, all of their relationships are very personal.

For a man, having a couple of “buddies” over to watch Monday Night Football is having a relationship.  Our idea of a relationship is chips and beer and sports and more beer.  And in business, “What are you looking for in a new home” is as personal as we want to get.


Fact:  Selling today is about customer satisfaction … and requires a “customer focused” process

Women are shoppers.  They’ve shopped with their moms before they can even remember.  If anything at all, they realize how it is to be treated by a bad sales person and what it’s like to work with a good one.  And they’ve had this experience thousands of times.  They know what satisfies them and what doesn’t.  This “sixth sense” is deeply ingrained and carries over into their business lives.  They know that “one size only fits one person”.

Men are shoppers too.  But they shop for the chips and beer that they need for the Monday night Football I mentioned before.  And if it’s any more shopping than that, their wives have to drag them along “kicking and screaming”.   Sure, they recognize a bad salesperson, but they just whisper “jerk”, beg their wife to leave and sum the experience up with, “You decide honey.  You’re good at those kinds of decisions”.


Fact:  Selling today is strategic … and requires “on-your-feet” thinking and implementing

Whether it’s Dr Phil, UCLA researcher Shelly Taylor, or negotiating tips from CareerWoman.com … there’s an issue where they all agree.  Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  Men, for instance, see selling or negotiating as a competitive sport or puzzle.  Women, on the other hand, see selling or negotiating as a collaborative process.

Women ask themselves, “How do I work with this person in order to eventually reach my goals and help my customer reach their goals too?”  Men ask themselves something completely different.  They end up wondering, “How do I unravel this puzzle so I can make a sale.”   You be the judge.  Which is most strategic and who would you rather work with?

Jeffery Pfeffer, author of The Human Equation, says it best.  He states that success comes from implementing your strategy, not just having one.


Lessons to Be Learned

Before I’m completely drummed out of the Rod, Gun, Bloody Mary and Labrador Retriever Club, let me admit something.  I had a point in mind when I was getting started.  I admit I generalized a little bit.  And I admit that I went a little overboard while poking fun at us guys.  But you have to admit, there’s a lot of truth to everything that I mentioned.  So, what am I saying?  It’s simple.

We need to step back and revaluate ourselves and our sales process.  Next, get better at what women do best.  There’s plenty for us guys to learn.  And maybe most of all, we need to reevaluate how we’re selling, compared to the huge commitment we’re asking our customers to make.  Our industry’s selling process doesn’t come close to matching our customer’s decision process.  Think about it.

What worked a mere five to ten years ago is not what works today!