Katie Mares: Women Are Customers for Life!
Gender defines the way a message is perceived; from sales and service interactions, marketing, and BDC scripting.
All of these messages, moments, and service interactions sum up how your customers perceive your overall Brand Experience.
With today's ‘connected’ society, customers are craving more connection. Yes, we are wanting more connection in a world where we are so very connected to everything and everyone. The trouble is, we are connected to devices, not humans.
According to research by behavioral marketing firm SmarterHQ, 50 percent of millennials not only go to physical stores, but they also prefer going to them as a primary means of shopping.
Gary Ambrosino, The CEO of Timetrade says “the bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store. We found that shoppers have done their shopping or discovery online, then go into the store to get help with their final purchase decision.”
Another study reveals that 65 percent of Americans also said they prefer to visit a physical store.
The automotive industry isn’t any different. Your customers are doing almost all of their research online; they know what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it before they walk through your doors. However, they still walk through your doors to make the final purchase. Which means you need to be ready to connect with them because let’s face it; price and quality aren’t enough to set you apart from other automotive retailers. If it were, more customers would buy online.
Women crave connection more than their counterpart gender, men. Moreover, if gender defines the way a message is perceived, then we better get good at connecting with The Chief Purchasing Officer as she holds the most significant influence in a Vehicle purchase and controls over 28 trillion dollars in spending power according to research done by Voigt.
Today’s woman has grown to be more educated, have far more financial power and decision making abilities. Through all this growth for the female gender one thing remains the same; we care an awful lot about connecting with you and are the best at building relationships. Unfortunately for you, we also expect you to be as good (or better) at connecting with us!
Science Plays a Part
When women connect or feel a sense of connection with something or someone the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that awakens the pleasure center in the female brain.
Now before our mind wanders south, let us look at this. Sharing secrets or emotions, creating relationships and connections activates the pleasure center in her brain; physiologically it feels great to bond with another human being. Why wouldn’t you want your female consumers to feel good about interacting with you considering that emotions drive the decision to purchase?
Women pride themselves on the successful relationship they have and keep. There are a ton of ‘stereotypes’ around women and their relationships. The fact is, the world is built on relationships, and your brand is built on relationships. The connection you have with your female consumers, how you deliver an experience and the way you market to them will dictate the relationship woman will have with your dealership.
Unfortunately, the Automotive Industry is ruled by men and men physiologically are not naturally apt to connect with women in the way a woman would expect. Men pride themselves on being competitive, dominate, and independent. Most men don’t understand why it is so necessary to share our secrets, emotions, or spend the time getting to know someone. The gap between who is selling your vehicles and who is purchasing them is very real in your dealerships.
The Connection Formula
If connecting with your customers doesn’t come as easy as running down the checklist of a needs assessment or sales consultation, then try this checklist out. The connection formula is based on research of what women want and how they go about creating a connection with another human being.
1. Compassion & Empathy
The way to a woman’s heart is through her heart! Showing compassion and empathy towards your female consumer will lend to a more trusting relationship much faster!
2. Reveal Vulnerabilities
Yes, you must show some of your softer sides. Showing vulnerability lets her know you are human too. For example, if she has a son that plays soccer and is always driving around and you have a similar struggle, share that with her! Doing this will forge a stronger relationship.
3. Engage Genuinely
I’ve mentioned this before, the number one reason a woman will walk out is that she doesn’t like the way she was treated; she can sense insincerity from a mile away. If you are going to engage with your female customers in any way, make sure you are genuine in your approach.
4. Assure and Validate
I don’t know if you have ever witnessed a conversation between two women. If you have you might have noticed that we will put ourselves down so we can be lifted up by our girlfriends. We may say something like “I think my hair looks flat today, what do you think?” then our girlfriend will say “no way! It looks amazing! You should do your hair like that more often”.
In those moments, her friend is assuring her that she looks great and validates that the way she did her hair was a good decision. Now I know you won’t necessarily be having a conversation about a customer’s hair (although it wouldn’t completely surprise me if a woman talked about her hair at some point), however you must assure her that her thought process about why she is shopping for a car is on the right track and validate that the decision to choose you is the right one.
5. Take Time
Anything worthwhile usually takes patience and time. The female customer doesn’t want to be rushed. She wants to feel like the priority. Take your time to get to know her, this will serve you well.
6. Evolve the Relationship
If we stop learning we might as well be dead. If you stop evolving your relationships with your female customers (all customers really) you might as well close your doors. Because without the evolution of the relationship you will not be in tune with how to tailor the experience for her as her needs and wants change. This will cause her to buy her next vehicle somewhere else.
Customers For Life
Knowing that 65 percent of Americans say they prefer to visit a physical store and women crave connection more than their counterpart gender, men. It is essential you connect with The Chief Purchasing Officer; The Decision Maker.
So, when delivering a message, engaging in a sales interaction or marketing to a woman make it your goal to increase the level of oxytocin stimulating the pleasure center of her brain resulting in an experience where she feels connected to you.
Katie Mares CTDP, MCATD, CPSA, CSP is available to train your organization and brings her expertise to the automotive industry. She is a dynamic speaker at Women in Automotive and Digital Dealer Conferences. Among her offerings:
- Program Development
- Brand Standards
- Leadership Development
- Coaching Sessions
- Retail Workshops
- In-Dealership Implementation
- Ongoing Support