If you are looking for a way to wow women in your business and create a customer for life, read on.
When it comes to making buying decisions women have a strong voice and direct influence. This is not earth shattering news as everyone has heard this and have either done their due diligence to explore this idea further or has dismissed this as total “mumbo jumbo.” Recently I saw an article in an industry trade publication discussing innovations and insights and of the 15 panelists there was not one single woman on the panel, it made me wonder how insightful the panel could be, if in fact, women and their opinions or insights are not considered vital.
After 25 years of experience in the tile industry, nothing has opened my eyes more to the importance of connecting with women in our stores and businesses than in the last year. My husband and recently opened a retail business selling furniture, tile, art and accessories and women shoppers have been a critical factor to our early success.
Based on immediate and past experience there are two ways that women approach purchases: emotionally/reactive, or through research/discussion. Either way, it’s important that we are diversified enough to meet and have the flexibility to connect with them whatever their approach.
Before, during and after the sales process, there are opportunities to influence and satisfy women buyers. Putting a few simple actions into play can help us be more effective and increase our ability to connect.
BeforeWomen have a tendency to research and review on-line products and stores prior to actually visiting showrooms/businesses. It’s important that you have a web presence and a website that is user friendly, neat and organized and easy to navigate. Also important is the connection between you and the customer. There is no better way to do this prior to their in-store visit than a Facebook fan page or Twitter.
DuringOnce she has made the decision to check out your store and products it is important that your showroom have the same characteristics you have exhibited on your website; user friendly, neat and organized (let me add here - clean), easy to navigate and is visually exciting.
Personal contact with these prominent influencers can help you assess through visual clues as to how they want to be addressed. If they are making eye contact and chatty, then it is important to interact with them through conversation. I’ve found through this conversation she is making a judgment as to whether you are really an engaged listener - that when she speaks you are really listening and she is giving you clues through her conversation as to what her interests are and what is important to her. If she is aloof and doesn’t make eye contact, usually she wants to take in some additional information about the store and the environment before beginning a discussion or she may be concerned about being pounced on and given a sales pitch.
Be prepared to give an opinion, women generally want advice and suggestions. Opinions, contrary to popular belief, aren’t threatening because those that need direction will appreciate the opinion and those that have their own opinion aren’t generally deterred by others advice.
It is important that your conversation is genuine. I’ve found the women are used to being patronized and can spot it a mile away.
Also important, whether dealing with women or men, is to provide information that people don’t generally know (interesting trivia is always fun). We all enjoy learning something new, and in our industry there are always new and exciting things being brought to the market. Showing the latest and greatest, prefacing that you know this is not what they are looking for, but you thought she might want to see some of the latest innovations or trends, lends credibility to you and your organization as being “in the know.”
AfterFollow-up after the contact, whether it led to a sale or just a conversation, is important. Just as dating women like to know if you had a good time or enjoyed the outing, it is a good idea to touch base either via email or phone and acknowledge the encounter at the store. Silence often sends a message that the encounter wasn’t notable. A simple email, note or phone message acknowledging that she was in the store, purchased the product, or to have been given an opportunity to share some ideas with her is a great way to continue the connection.
I’m hoping that 2011 brings you growth and profitability and that your business is one that helps women enjoy being a part of our exciting industry.