When I think about the world of business today, it’s hard to have a conversation that isn’t focused to some extent about women. Is it that women are the “hot” topic of the day? Is it that women are once again in the “bra-burning” phase? Or is there something more concrete we should be paying attention to?
The world is changing and so is our economy. One that was once based on transactions has morphed into one based on relationships. Whether you are a man in business or selling to women, or a woman selling to or being sold to, we are all working with a market that influences over 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions…WOMEN! No matter how much we fight change, today’s business model needs to do just that…change!
Let me share some facts…Women are now 50% of the workforce. Women earn 57% of all college degrees and 60% of all graduate degrees, women now account for influencing 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions, including everything from autos to health care, and spend about $5 trillion annually. Women are more likely to provide repeat business and to refer friends and family-92% of women pass information and refer others. Women have are some inherent qualities that make them the perfect candidates for business; relationship building, multi-taskers, nurturers, care-givers, organizers, good listeners and the list goes on and on.
Let’s zero in on women and their relationship skills in the business world:
- Women are opportunity experts and see opportunity in everything and everyone and inspire others to do the same.
- Women are networking professionals. They meet people and follow-up…an important part of relationship building. They look for quality and not quantity in a room full of people and want to make a difference in the lives of the people they meet.
- Women are specialists at cultivating relationships that are purposeful, genuine and meaningful. They focus on growing healthy, long-lasting relationships. They are masters at connecting people and can identify and strengthen business opportunities with their attention to details.
- Women are natural givers not only to people but to their communities. Many non-profits are run by women because they want to promote a cause and bring attention to those that need help. Women are great at lifting and inspiring others.
The bottom line is this… women are socially conscious leaders that serve to cultivate innovation and initiative for both themselves and others. It isn’t a secret that the fastest growing sector of small business owners in America are women.
Remember, no one can copy your relationship with your customer or colleague. They can have all the competitive intelligence that is available, but no one can actually copy that relationship.
For women, collaboration is key. Women tend to seek agreement and work at being more collaborative. We’ve moved from cooperation to collaboration. The days of working in silos is behind us.
Passion counts. When women are excited and passionate about a product, a service, a company, or whatever they are doing, they become extremely driven from that emotion and they tend to refer that to others…remember, that is 92% of the time.
Now, you might be reading this and scratching your head still wondering…why women? If you are in business and planning on working with women or selling to women, then you need to know how to communicate with women…and I am speaking to both the men and the women that are reading this. Even though we know that men and women are different in almost everything they do, the core difference is that men are more transactional and women are more relational.
- Men want to get straight to the facts and close the deal quickly and may look to develop a relationship later. Women, on the other hand, want to develop a relationship first and then they look to close the deal. Women understand that making business personal builds long-term customer relationships and loyalty. It is roughly six to twelve times less expensive to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Customer loyalty and repeat business is something to consider when building relationships. Did you know that repeat customers spend, on average, 67% more than new customers so increasing repeat customers is the number one way to increase profits?
- Men tend to lecture more and listen less than women yet they make decisions quicker. It’s no surprise that people want to do business with men because the process is shorter, but, while the activity of building relationships may take more time, it is definitely worth the investment. When you are an engaged listener to your client, or a co-worker or even someone in your family, you are able to solve an issue or a challenge.
The truth of the matter is that women and business in a topic that is important to both men and women. With 10.1 million women-owned businesses, generating sales into the trillions and the increase in women-owned businesses is 1 ½ times the national average, it is important to understand the differences that men and women bring to the table; conference or dining room, corporate or entrepreneurial. These differences are just that…differences. They aren’t right or wrong, better or worse, they are different. Once we understand and embrace those differences, we will be able to communicate, hire, work with, sell to, buy from and enjoy each other.
Remember, no matter what side of that table you are sitting at, ask questions, listen, build relationships because the bottom line is that Women Mean Business…It actually has a double meaning….The more women you sell to, the more business there is and the more women on the team, the stronger it is because WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS!