From Mel Gibson’s starring role in the 2000 film What Women Want to John Gray’s 1992 mega-bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, the message has been out there for years: communicating effectively with women is an art.

Mastering this art will do two things for your business: 1) Your female customer will follow your recommendations and buy from you; 2) She’ll provide you with the best referral marketing you could ever implement.

Connecting with female consumers may be even more important now than in the past. Economic hardship has changed the way we are spending our dollars. Since women control the majority of household spending, it pays to learn to treat them exceptionally well.

How are women different in the decision-making process than men? Both are looking for a combination of knowledge and trust, yet men and women develop trust in different ways. Men make decisions based on few facts and tend to take action independently. Women need more information up front and tend to be slower to make a decision. They need to process the information and feel they have been listened to; they’ll want to ask their friends and family for their opinions, too.

If you want to earn a woman’s loyalty and referrals, consider the following five steps:

1. Relax and Listen

Women are much more sensitive to your tone of voice than male customers. If you’re stressed and tense, your words can unknowingly become clipped and curt. Your female client will tune into your tone and judge your business negatively because of the way you talk.

Women are more sensitive to eye contact, body language and gestures. Women need sustained eye contact more than men—usually twenty to thirty seconds at least to feel you’re listening to them.

When you present your information, don’t use a canned presentation. Customize your offer to their needs. Answer all their questions, no matter how trivial they seem. It’s important they not sense that you are stressed for time.

When presenting to a woman, focus on her during your presentation. Listen with your eyes, body language and tone of voice. Listen to her story. If you’re busy looking at paperwork, she will feel you’re not listening and will not give you her trust. As she tells you her story, she’ll be giving you clues to her concerns, her wants, her goals and desires. Direct your conversation toward her, but be sure also to ask her spouse or significant other about any concerns he or she may have.

2. Show Professionalism and Care

From the very first phone call, your female prospect needs to connect and for you to make her feel special. If you invite her to a presentation, the locale needs to be warm, inviting, clean and neat. Dress professionally; women notice details.

Make sure to display your credentials or awards. Your female buyer will look at your diplomas, certificates and honors, but she won’t want you to tout them. You can refer to a safety award, but don’t brag about it!

Respect her time; don’t keep her waiting. Remember the phrase: “People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting.” This is especially true for women. Women are multi-taskers. If you keep a woman waiting, she’ll be thinking of all the other things she needs to do and will be more stressed than the majority of your male clients.

3. Don’t Put Down the Competition

When communicating with women, it’s important to remain neutral when discussing your competitor. Never speak badly about another business. Instead, talk about the benefits of your products and how they will best suit her needs. Talk about your products with a positive focus on how they will meet the needs of her family. A woman will often have two main passions: her family and making the world a better place. How will your product save her family money? Keep them safer? Protect the environment?

4. Emphasize the Buyer’s Benefits

Women look for the perfect answer. It’s in their nature to want to be certain they are making the right decision. Help your female prospect make the right decision by discussing why it’s best she move on this decision right now.

Most people want the best treatment they can afford. Women especially like to buy the best they can for their family’s needs. Provide your female client with options, but do tell her what you feel is the best for her situation. Remember she may be slower to make her decision than your male client, as she wants to gather information and make that right decision. You might facilitate acceptance sooner with a complimentary added-value service, such as a guarantee.

5. Expect to Follow Up

Many times, sales are lost with female customers because of a lack of follow-up. When men say, “I’ll think about it,” it usually means they’re not interested. When a woman says, “I’ll think about it,” she truly means it.

Ask permission to follow up within a week and answer any questions she may have. From there, she will direct you to what she wants. She’ll either need more time, more information, want to buy from you, or have decided on another product. Demanding, insistent salespeople will often lose the sale to the female client. She doesn’t want to be “sold”!

If you focus your business on the needs of the female customer, you will have her loyalty, trust and referrals. Men have needs, but women need much more. If you don’t meet the needs of your female customers, they will leave you. If you just meet their needs, they’ll stay. If you exceed their needs, they will refer their friends, family and colleagues.

DR. RHONDA SAVAGE is CEO for a well-known practice
management and consulting business. As past President of the
Washington State Dental Association, she is active in organized
dentistry and has been in private practice for more than sixteen years.
Dr. Savage is a noted speaker on women’s issues,
communication and leadership, and zoo dentistry.