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Small Business Digest


Helping Women Sell – and Helping Men Sell to Women

Companies don’t need to hold separate training seminars for their male and female sales staff, but they should recognize the differences in how men and women communicate.

 Understanding those differences can help sales associates adapt their approach, and, it is to be hoped, reach the lucrative female market. Judy Hoberman, a former sales manager with 30 years’ experience, is the author of the new book Selling In a Skirt, which teaches both sexes how to sell to this exclusive segment.

The book also encourages women in sales to use their innate relationship skills to make more sales and helps male managers recruit, train and retain female sales professionals.

Originally intended only for women in sales, the book “evolved 360 degrees,” says Hoberman, after she spoke with numerous male managers who acknowledged one of their biggest concerns was how to attract, and retain, female sellers.

“Women are responsible for 85% of consumer purchases, so if you don’t know how to sell to them, you’re done,” she explains.

“I also did it because I was looking for something that would have helped me,” says the veteran seller. “I think about if I had a female mentor, just one, my whole life would have changed drastically. I thought if I could give back to someone how amazing that would be.”

Hoberman’s book is largely based on her experiences working in several industries. For the funny anecdotes, she often referred to journals she kept throughout the years.

She’s happy with the result, and although some may be hesitant, she believes many of the male-dominated companies will embrace her theory.

“I think the initial reaction I got was, ‘I don’t sell in a skirt. This is for women.’ But it does say on the cover that these are things that men need to know as well. If I ask them if they have enough women on their sales team, they get it,” she says. “I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just explains the differences if you have a female versus a male counterpart.”

Hoberman, who delivers keynote speeches and training seminars to large groups of men, always asks the same basic questions to help gauge the audience: How many of you are in sales? How many of you work with the opposite sex? How many of you think men and women are different?

The last question often draws the most laughter, but when Hoberman begins sharing examples, she can practically see when many in the audience experience that “Aha!” moment.

“Sales professionals who understand this dynamic and adapt to a woman’s communication style are much more likely to make the sale, and to win referrals if they continue to nurture the relationship.”

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