Coming To Terms With How Women Buy Is Key
It has been widely acknowledged that women are an extremely important target market for financial advisors.
Women make up more than half of Americas population and approximately 45% of the countrys work force, according to a recent PBS article.
During the last few decades, women have not only joined the working world in masses, they also have taken over the financial responsibilities for their families. In fact, women make or influence 86% of all household financial decisions, according to Women and Diversity WOW! Facts 2003, Business Womens Network and Diversity Best Practices, Washington.
I like to describe these female financial decision-makers as the Chief Procurement Officer for their households. Financial advisors need to keep in mind that many women who enter their offices are financially responsible for their families as well as for themselves and their businesses.
Many advisors often forget this and fall back on the thinking they use with their male prospects. Perhaps it is American culture and history that directs our attention to the husband instead of the wife, but this seldom will end in a sale. It may seem easier to work with a male client, but women are equally as important and share much of the financial decision-making responsibilities.
There are many things that advisors need to keep in mind when approaching a female prospect. Here are a few important tips:
1. Recognize that gender matters when approaching a sale.
Women have argued for many years that they should be treated equally–this is true when it comes to how women are treated as employees but not how they are treated as customers.
Male prospects tend to seek out a highly knowledgeable salesperson who is direct and who will provide what they consider to be useful information. While a female prospect also is looking for that practical data, she differs in that she will want to build trust by forming a relationship with her salesperson.
Whether we are talking about a financial representative or the salesperson at a department store, a woman is looking for someone who she can count on to help make decisions. She wants a salesperson who will give her honest answers to important, perhaps life-altering, questions.
In addition, a woman will seek out an advisor based on the positive experiences of friends and relatives. This is an added benefit for financial advisors, because women often act as referrals. If she appreciates your services, she will tell her friends and relatives about you.
2. Understand a womans buying process.
According to marketing experts, most men have a linear shopping perspective, while womens shopping perspective is circular. For example, lets assume a man needs gray slacks with pleats and cuffs. He enters the first store in the mall and finds a pair that has cuffs but no pleats — he buys them anyway. The man is satisfied with a 90% solution.
A woman, on the other hand, will not be content until she finds a 100% solution. A woman in a similar situation who may be looking for a black cocktail dress will go from store to store until she finds the perfect dress. She may find a dress at the first store, but thinks, “What if the perfect dress is at another store?”
The majority of women expect to be a 100% satisfied customer.
A financial advisor must understand this. The process may take longer, but a completely satisfied female customer will be much more loyal and content down the road. Take the time to understand the wants and needs of female prospects before jumping in with suggestions and advice.