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Digital Dealer Magazine Features Peter Martin of Ask Patty

Published Mar 27th 2007, 12:30am by Jody DeVere in Pressroom Articles

Digital Dealer Magazine | March 2007

How to Sell to your Toughest Customer: a Woman
by : Peter Martin

This is the first installment of a series on how to market and sell to women consumers. Times have changed and if you are to be successful in marketing to women you need to first understand them and what they want. Here are some facts about the purchasing power of women that you may not be aware of:

• They account for 88 percent of retail customers in the U.S.

• Women directly purchase or influence the purchase of 91 percent of all new homes

• They directly purchase or influence more than 55 percent of home fix-up.

• Women purchase roughly 81 percent of riding lawn mowers

• Women account for 66 percent of all home computer purchases

• Women carry 76 million credit cards; 8 million more than men

• 91 percent of women have sole or joint responsibility for annuities (Source: Prudential Financial, 2004)

Most importantly, women purchase 50 percent of all vehicles sold and influence over 80 percent of all automotive purchases. They complete 85 percent of all CSI surveys. Women represent 73 percent of all service facility customers.

Now that we have a better understanding of their buying power, it is important that you understand what they think about the buying process. The best indication of this is the recent poll of 9,800 women conducted by CarMax. In this poll, women say purchasing a vehicle remains a hassle. Nearly seven out of 10 women said they feel at a greater disadvantage than men when it comes to purchasing a vehicle.

“A significant number of women continue to feel disadvantaged during the vehicle-buying process and prefer to bring along a man when shopping,” according to the recently released survey Gender Rules of the Road, conducted by Capital One Auto Finance.

Before I go any further I want to make sure that you understand that I am one of you. I started my career with Ricart Ford selling cars and was part of the team that helped them become the number one Ford dealer in the nation, and I have held almost every position in the dealership at one time or another. My perspective is one from someone who has been on the front line and understands what it is like to sit across the desk from the consumer. This information is not the easiest to swallow, but understand that I am not standing on my soapbox telling you what to do. I have listened to all the “experts,” reviewed all the reports, and what I am presenting is what I believe will help you sell more vehicles. And at the end of the day, that’s what we all want to achieve.

I am going to let you in on a few tips that will help you sell successfully to women. Whatever you can do to establish and maintain a relationship with a woman customer will make her feel more comfortable and therefore more likely to buy from you. Establishing a connection should be your primary goal. If you do that, the sale will almost take care of itself. One of the first things that you need to do is listen to her.

Women talk twice as much as men and it is imperative that you listen to them effectively. This is one of the major differences between the sexes and, believe it or not, can be best illustrated if you go to the playground and watch your children. The boys will be standing around talking and their eyes will be all over the place; the little girls will be in a circle engaged in more intent communication. Women talk to gather information, connect, check and maintain relationships, find their place in a group, and feel safe. It is important that you allow her to express her concerns and do not try to answer her questions before she finishes asking it.

In his book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Dr. John Grey explains that men are hardwired to find solutions and come up with quick resolutions to problems as opposed to women, who are not looking for us to solve their problems but instead listen to their concerns. This is one of the toughest behaviors to change because it is in a man’s nature to want to provide solutions, but if you can hold your tongue and allow them to express their thoughts it will go a long way. Remember, selling to women takes longer because they are shoppers. One last correlation to think about: Christmas shopping. Men can walk into a mall and go right in and make a purchase, whereas woman will go into the mall and visit every store, comparing items as they go. They may find what they are looking for at the first store but they will still “shop” to make sure they are getting exactly what they want. Women also tend to enjoy the process of shopping; instead of being as focused on the outcome, as men tend to be.

Some other ideas to help you to build a relationship with your women clients:

• Find the commonalities in your lives—children, hobbies, favorite authors, travel—and share them. Remember to bring them up whenever you talk. Remembering the names of their children will go a long way to foster a strong relationship
• Look for opportunities to share your feelings. That’s right, feelings. Let’s face it; you’ll never create a strong personal bond by discussing engine torque. Don’t be afraid to ask her about her thoughts and feelings, either.
• Introduce her to the people at the dealership with whom she may work at some point. Let her know that these people are important to you and to her. They are part of your team, and therefore also a part of her team. It is important to do this prior to the sale. We all have been trained to take them to the service department after the sale, but what I suggest is taking them into service department during the sale process so to make her feel more comfortable. Remember that women are relationship buyers and the more people that you can introduce her to and build value in the dealership team the stronger her ties to your dealership will become. Studies have shown that a female consumer will pay up to 27 percent more for a product if she feels that she is buying from someone she trusts.

These tips are just a few that will help you establish a trusting relationship with your female customers. It doesn’t end there but it is a good beginning. Next month we will talk about how the Internet plays a role in the purchasing process and what is important to the female customer.

Peter Martin is the founder and CEO of, the premier automotive advice site for women and has one of the most visited and respected blogs on the Internet. Ask Patty provides a turnkey marketing program for dealers to help them communicate and sell to women.

See full article here.

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