Listening to Women will Increase your Success
By Gerry Myers

Why is it that dealers sometimes get defensive with women buyers and see them as adversaries rather than as partners? Buying a car should be a partnership between the customer and the salesperson where the desired results are:

  • The customer will become an advocate for the dealership because they were pleased with the experience and will return when they need another vehicle.

  • Mutual respect for each other as part of the process…one based on integrity and knowledge.

  • A fair price was achieved where a win-win was created, not a win-lose or lose-lose situation.

Listening to your female customers is paramount

After years of saying, “Listen to your women customers and they will tell you what they want,” I’m afraid the lesson is still not adhered to by many dealerships and salespersons. Good listening entails asking open-ended questions and then focusing on what your customer answers, not what you are going to say next. I’m still amazed to hear salespeople present the walk-around with a memorized spiel and pay no attention to questions women ask during the process, other than to respond, “We will get to that.” Get to it when she asks.

Listening is interactive. It creates a two-way street of communication. Make sure you understand what she wants and let her know you can help her attain her goal. Excellent communication is a necessary part of building trust and a good relationship with the customer.

Creating the right environment matters

The tone is set at the top. If the dealer or general manager doesn’t have the right attitude, the salespeople won’t either. Recently, I was quoted in a publication and the reporter told me later that he received several positive calls about the article from women and dealers. However, the one that surprised him the most was from a long-time dealer who actually worked to prove his female customers wrong when they complained about the car buying process and service at his dealership – rather than trying to listen to the women and fix the problems. According to the reporter, the dealer contended, “Good service does not really enhance profits much because it doesn’t correlate to repeat sales.” Like the reporter, I was amazed.

Dealers like Carl Sewell would also disagree. They pride themselves on the outstanding service they provide and how that has created customers for life for his dealerships. In fact, he even wrote a book on the subject. Extraordinary customer service, great products, professional salespeople and dedicated management does translate into repeat business and referrals from women.

Having an attractive facility counts

Cleanliness is very important to women. They will notice the play area, waiting room, restrooms and the desk of the salesperson. Do they feel comfortable in your facility? Is it attractive? Little things are noticed by women. Are the plants lush and green or dying on the vine? Are there paper towels and soap in the women’s lounge or overflowing trash cans?

Take stock of your facility, including the dress of your salespeople and the clutter on their desks and in their offices. This is not to recommend a sterile environment devoid of photographs or individual touches. Personalized touches add to the décor and create a more relaxed environment as long as they are done in good taste and don’t amount to just clutter.

Approaching women in a timely fashion helps

One of the things I still hear most often from women is that they are ignored for long periods of time when they enter the dealership alone or with a girlfriend. Making sure that women are waited on promptly and courteously will increase your profitability. When women come to the showroom, most have done their homework, have a fair or exact idea of what they want and are ready to move to the next step in the buying process.

Once the vehicle has been selected and the negotiation begins, treat her with respect, honesty and as quickly as possible. Women today are time-starved. They have to juggle many things, including buying a vehicle. The dealership that shows they appreciate a woman’s time constraints and doesn’t play games has the best chance for success. However, don’t rush the process so much that you make incorrect assumptions. Many sales are lost because salespeople jump to erroneous conclusions about how much she can afford, whether she can make a decision without her husband or if there is a husband. Don’t presume because she is with a man, he is her husband or because she is with an older man, he is her father.

Closing the sale is the beginning

To build a long-term relationship with women, salespeople need to realize they have to be there after the sale, as well as before. It means checking with her after she has driven the car for a month and making sure everything is going well. During that call, the salespeople should mention they would be honored to help any of her friends, family or colleagues who might be in the market for a vehicle.

If your dealership provides new car orientations or car care clinics, make sure she is aware of when they are scheduled. Send her a note when it is time for her first oil change. Keeping in front of her, but not being too pushy is a hard thing to manage, but it is an essential step toward building a database of happy, repeat women customers. By the way, men customers will respond equally well to all the above tips. Never worry about losing your male customers if you create a female-friendly, professional environment and a pleasant car buying experience.


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