Thursday, May 03, 2007

Knowing what no means

The Tom Peters Time e-newsletter has this to say about the difference between selling to men and selling to women:

http://archives.subscribermail.com/msg/525025b2d2f84582933a87e96237120b.htm

One classic example is the term still used today called "handling objections." Sales training still teaches that if you get a "no" from a buyer, you should go back, sharpen your pencil, come up with a new deal, and go make the pitch one more time. Now, you have to realize that this is how men sell to men, and most sales training is taught by men on how to sell to men. The truth is that this doesn't work when you are selling to women. To women (now read this very slowly), "No means No!"

I'm not sure this is always true - it might also be a matter of time frames. Peters goes on to say that women want to build a relationship with a product or company, so it may mean that no means not now - give me some time to get used to the idea.

There's certainly a difference between saying that my default position is "buy" - so that if problems are solved (i.e. objections handled) then I will buy - and saying that my default position is "consider" - in which case merely handling objections would not be enough. Meeting objections would balance the objections- it would not provide extra weight to the 'buy' side of the scales. In order to move from "consider" to "buy" I would need to have positive incentive to make the shift. If I made objections, that would be an indication that the incentives were not compelling - so handling the objections would merely prolong a process that was already off the tracks.

Recently I read something that said women will splurge on small things, but are price-conscious on larger things (they will spring for a latte or a pedicure, but comparison shop for a good winter coat, etc.). Their default position may well be "shop" whereas men may have a default of "buy" - they're only out there looking once they're convinced they want to buy.

The key, in either case (and regardless of gender) is to make changes to the beginning of the sales process. Rather than focus on 'handling objections' or 'closing a sale,' the key is to gain as much information as possible from the beginning of the process so that you know whether your customer is coming in with "buy" or "shop" as a default. Instead of having your own predisposition to selling benefits or solutions (objections in disguise), you can meet your customer in his/her model, and begin to notice the pace at which s/he is comfortable moving from "explore" to "buy."

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