How to Sell to Women….and Men (Part 2)

We explored how to sell to women. Now, let’s talk about men.

Men often assess their value by how well they gain status and accomplishment. Linguist Deborah Tannen discusses this constant one-upmanship that men tend to engage in as “alignment.” Men often try to position themselves higher than the person they’re talking to, hence bragging and verbal displays of ego. In a man’s world, one gains status by giving orders or advice and getting others to follow them.

Therefore, in selling to men, allow them to position themselves above you. Your own level of self-confidence will dictate how high you will allow prospects to align themselves. But by doing this you will also give your prospect a sense of security by granting him more status in the relationship. Sociologist Erving Goffman took this idea of alignment a step further. Men, when confronted with a problem, tend to elevate their status by trivializing or ignoring the concern by saying something like, “It’s no big deal.” But in discussing emotions with men, relate the problem to someone else’s dilemma or mention it as a challenge you would like to be solved.

Tell a story

I heard an anecdote recently of a female salesperson who was trying to sell disability insurance to a male business owner. She mentioned that the incidence of morbidity is much higher than mortality while illustrating the concept with a story. A surgeon who injured his hand was so distressed that he tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide because of his depression over being unable to provide for his family in the same style they were accustomed.

She could have talked to her prospect about how he would have felt if he were unable to provide for his family. But the prospect may have trivialized it by claiming that he never worried about something so remote. Yet by hearing about someone else with that problem, he was able to preserve his own alignment to the salesperson and accept the example without admitting he might be vulnerable.

Selling to the opposite sex is difficult at best. Girls don’t grow up intimately communicating with boys and vice-versa. They play and talk generally in same sex groups. So chances are you have very little experience and insight into what the opposite sex prospect is really thinking. The problem is that if you don’t know, you’ll lose sales. Pay attention the next time you are in front of an opposite sex prospect. If you use these techniques, your sales will go a lot smoother and become more frequent.

So in summary, remember this: Women communicate in an effort to gain intimacy and rapport. Men communicate to gain status and power.

By Kerry Johnson

From the December 01, 2011 issue of Senior Market Advisor

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