More Good Sales Questions

March 16, 2010

If you’re looking for more effective sales questions to ask your female clients, this might be helpful……

This article has some sales questions that work well with female clients (scroll down near the bottom).  I wanted to share it with you, as I’m always teaching the “right” and “wrong” sales questions to ask your female clients.  I want to give you many ways to think about it, so you can find ways that work for you and your clients.

I often refer to (my favourite and yours…) Deborah Tannen PhD‘s research on “report” vs “rapport” language style.  This article provides another angle –  shifting from fear/lack-based questions into Empowering questions.  I’m not sure if that’s what the salesperson realizes she is doing, but it’s what I see.

Take a look near the bottom of the article, where Lori Claxton (financial advisor) provides examples of questions she asks clients, like : “If you knew you were going to get cancer in the next six months, what would you like things to look like?”  This is a great question, because it highlights Empowerment, instead of fear – it’s about what the client wants, not what she doesn’t want.   So, in that respect, it is quite different from the typical question asked: “If you got sick do you have the financial means to support yourself?”, that seem to instill a sense of fear, rather than empowerment.

Now You:  Take a look at your sales script.  Do you see any questions that create a sense of fear or doubt in the client?  See if you can make changes to those questions, to have them instill a sense of Empowerment.

Let me know how it goes, or if you need help with this, post your questions here.

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(Really) Last Minute Gift Ideas for those Empowered Women & Girls in Your Life

December 23, 2009

If you leave holiday shopping until the last minute (like I do), I think I have a solution for you…

Here are 5 great gifts for women clients, family, or friends who love the concept of empowering women and girls across the globe. (ps – these are also great gifts for men who are interested in empowering women!).  You can buy these gifts online right now, and they are “delivered” immediately as donations to women charities, or registrations for upcoming women’s events.

3 Organizations dedicated to Empowering Women & Girls (just go online and donate in her name, or on behalf of a client/client list):
http://www.womenforwomen.org – helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives
http://www.kiva.org – loans that change lives
http://www.girleffect.org – created by the Nike Foundation to educate & empower women and girls in developing countries

2 Networking Events for Professional Women (go online and pay/register for an upcoming event…assuming you know she’ll be available to attend that day):
http://www.womenofinfluence.ca – professional women luncheon speaker series; events held in 9 major cities in Canada
http://www.wxnetwork.com – professional women luncheon/breakfast speaker series; events held in 7 major cities in Canada

I get so excited when I think of how meaningful these gifts are, and what an amazing message of support they send to the women in your life!

Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays!!

PS: if you are donating on behalf of clients, remember to send an email to let them know that in lieu of gifts/cards, you are donating to (XYZ) charity.  Be sure to include the link to the organization, so they can check it out.


Achieve More…by Trying Easier.

June 30, 2009

If you have a chance to read the paperback Mind Gym by Gary Mack, go for it. Mack fits a mind-blowing lesson about how the mind influences athletic performance – even more than physical skill – into every 4-page mini-chapter. The book is written for athletes, but the lessons are relevant for business. I think the chapter called “Try Easier” serves up a perfect lesson for marketing and selling to women.

To Illustrate: In “Try Easier”, Mack tells the story of a track coach who “instructed his runners to run 800 meters as fast as they could. Later, the coach had them run the same distance, at only 90 percent of top speed. What surprised the runners, is that their times were better when they ran at 90 percent, than when they went all out.”. Mack explains…. “giving 90 percent effort, runners expend a lot of muscular energy but they relax the antagonist muscles that hinder maximum performance.” He continues….”When Ken Griffey Jr steps up to the plate, he doesn’t grind his bat handle into sawdust….the source of his power isn’t brute strength, but rather leverage, flexibility, and range of motion.”

And so it is in selling and marketing to women. I see many salespeople (men and women) get too wound up when planning how to market and sell to women….they wonder if they have to redesign every marketing material and paint them pink, if they should replace all sales scripts with probing questions that ask women about their “feelings”, if they should hold “spa days” instead of the annual golf tournament….what is the ‘right’ way, Cristi? they ask, with pained looks on their faces. By “trying harder”, they run the risk of “trying too hard” and alienating women, similar to what Dell computers did recently, which ended in a pretty big disaster and a fast redo of their strategy. So, although details are important, if you’re “trying too hard”, you might want to consider winning the race by “trying easier”.

An example: My friend Jennifer recently returned from a salmon fishing trip with her dad and two brothers. Each year, the boys go to an exclusive lodge off the west coast of BC for 4 days of fishing with a private guide, and to socialize with other fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. Jen was thrilled about a four-day bonding experience of being ‘one of the boys’. Jenn knew she could play at their level, and she did, catching the biggest Coho salmon of the week! At the end of every guest week, the lodge hosts an awards dinner for “Biggest Catch”. After watching the other guests (all guys) receive their trophies and $100 lodge gift store certificates, Jen was picturing the spot on her mantle for her “Biggest Coho” trophy, and the new fishing supplies she would buy with her gift certificate. However, when her name was called, and she bounded to the front of the room to get her trophy, the lodge manager announced into the microphone (in these exact words) “Well, because of the gender issue, we didn’t know what to get you. So…we got you this serving platter”. Not wanting to make a scene, Jen smiled through her gritted her teeth and sat back down to her brother’s joke….“Well sis, that platter is for you to serve the menfolk the fish you caught”. In this case, the lodge made the critical mistake of “trying too hard” to accommodate women, and made her into an “issue”, instead of making her feel welcome and equal.

Some readers may think the fishing lodge intended to insult its female guest by giving her a serving platter, but I doubt it. This is a case of the lodge ‘trying too hard’ to paint it pink. instead of accommodating, they actually alienated their female client.

Now You: Are you so focussed on ‘winning’ in the women’s market, that you forget to relax, breathe, and listen to what women really want? Are you trying “too hard” and alienating women by going overboard, or are you simply evaluating what you can adjust, to ensure you have considered women’s needs? Do you see the women’s market as a “gender issue” or a segment that holds huge opportunity?

PS – the fishing industry might want to put a more effort into understanding what women want…according to the American Sportfishing Association, 25% of anglers are women, and women are one of the key markets driving the increase in industry sales.


Are you a drop of water, or part of the ocean?

June 18, 2009

When I started meditating, I couldn’t grasp the concept of “all human beings are one” (hey, I was in business school at the time – my focus was on distinguishing myself from others) until it was explained in a manner I finally understood, which is something like this: each person is a unique drop of water, and humanity is an ocean. Like a drop of water in the ocean, we don’t know where one drop of water ends and the other begins. That is the nature of our human connectedness. 10 years later, I see how this concept applies to business. Actions by unknown people, in unrelated industries, directly impact us and our own businesses.

You may not have heard of Forte Foundation, but their actions will impact your business. Forte Foundation is a consortium of major corporations and top business schools, with a mandate to “substantially increase the number of women business leaders”. Companies like American Express, Deloitte, McKinsey, and the biggest names in business schools like Harvard, Columbia, Insead, and Yale are the forces behind this foundation. I suspect they have set serious goals, and will meet them.

Let’s connect the drops of water in your ocean…. the most prestigious universities & corporations in the world are driving forces behind initiatives to increase number of women MBA graduates…..resulting in more women MBA graduates….resulting in more women in executive roles….resulting in more women making serious decisions about who their company will buy from…resulting in you, pitching more women buyers. The ripple effect is that your ability to understand “what women want” as business leaders (whether you are selling to them, marketing to them, or recruiting them), will directly impact your business success.

Now YOU – Do you see your business as a drop of water, or part of the ocean? Have you connected the “drops” to see how Forte’s work will impact your business? Take the first step in learning what women want, so you can go for a swim in this ocean of opportunity.


Alternative to golf tournaments and hockey tickets

June 4, 2009

People often ask me about client appreciation events that appeal to women. I find that people are looking for alternatives to golf tournaments, hockey tickets, and wine and cheese events. To attract women, I always suggest to look for events that meet the following four criteria: (1) entertaining (2) educational (3) empowering, and (4) connect the prospect/client with people who add value to her life.

Here’s a great example that just landed in my inbox. It’s a motivational evening with a speaker who is the second woman to scale Everest. In addition to meeting all four criteria, it’s not super expensive, some of the proceeds go to St. Joe’s Women’s Centre, and it’s a lot shorter than a 4-hour golf tournament (for time-pressured women, this means something). Last, but not least, it’s not exclusive to women – this is a great motivational speaker who would appeal to men too.

Now You: If you are in Ottawa, consider taking advantage of this event. If you’re not in Ottawa, let this example inspire you to look for events that are 1) entertaining, 2) educational, 3) empowering, and 4) connect women with other people who can add value to her life.

Do you have more ideas about great events to attract women clients and prospects? If so, I’d love to hear them!


Is this an effective ad?

May 6, 2009

Last Christmas, JC Penny launched a campaign called “Beware of the Doghouse”, featuring a website with a video about a man who buys his wife a vacuum cleaner for their anniversary (“it’s the best one you’ll ever have, baby”). He gets sent to the ‘doghouse’, where he learns that buying his wife diamonds from JC Penny is the way to get out of the doghouse.

Now You: In your opinion, is this ad funny? And more importantly, is it effective? Do you think it would increase JC Penny’s revenues?

Take a look: www.bewareofthedoghouse.com (Click on the movie projector icon)


What We Can Learn from Iranian Women About Business Opportunity

May 6, 2009

There’s a new business in Tehran, and it came about in a way I love….by looking at how women are not being served by current businesses and thinking “what business can I build to fill that need?”

The story: Iranian women are typically segregated from men in public. On buses women ride in the back of the bus, and men ride in the front. But when it comes to taxis, for some reason, women and men all squish into taxis together and share rides. According to Iranian women interviewed, this leads to situations where women are “not comfortable” (to say the least) from some mens’ behaviours in those closed situations. And this is where someone saw a lucrative business opportunity and grabbed it.

Enter Women’s Taxi Company in Tehran. All the drivers are women, and they only pick up women passengers. It has 40,000 registered regular customers who are willing to pay more to be driven by a woman. They started with 10 cars, now have 700, and plan to expand to 2,000 cars just in Tehran alone. According to the managing director, the company is growing quickly enough that it is planning its expansion across Iran, and even into other Gulf countries.

Now You: Look at the world with new eyes. Start looking for problems that women face every day. Then think “how can I make money by solving that problem?”. As a woman, what drives you nuts about how you’re served by businesses today? If you’re a man, pose that question to your wife, daughter, or sister. Then think about what business could you build that would solve that problem?