Boss Lady

Why B2Bs are just now discovering the female economy


Women buy things — that’s nothing new. In fact, much of consumer culture has been feminized over the last century as women gain their own income and control a significant portion of the buying population. Considering that men have had to claw their way back into advertisements about cars, clothing and cleaning supplies, no one should be surprised to learn that women have money and make purchases.

For decades, B2Bs have continued to cater to a male audience, wrongly assuming that the masculine world of business was free of the feminine touch. However, now that women are veritably taking over the workplace, women have begun to control the B2B economy — which means male marketing tactics won’t work for much longer.

Whether you run a B2B, regulate purchasing for a business or simply want to know what’s new in marketing, read on for how women are affecting the B2B economy.

Participation, education and seniority

First, it is important to accept how women have penetrated the American labor force. In 1950, only about three in 10 women worked outside the home, and in 1970, just over four in 10 boasted part- or full-time jobs. Yet, as of 2014, over 57 percent of American women age 16 and up are part of the workforce, claiming 46.8 percent of the U.S. labor force. Admittedly, this is not more than men, but it is nearly as likely that a B2B will engage with a female contact as they will a male one.

This fact is even more true considering how women are preparing to enter the workforce. Women are significantly more likely to have college degrees (and higher academic credentials) than men. In fact, men are swiftly becoming a minority on college campuses as well over half of all academic credentials gained are by female students. It stands to reason that better education comes with better opportunity, but in terms of wages, that doesn’t seem to hold true. In roughly a quarter of American hetero marriages, the woman has more education — but the man is still paid more.

Regardless of pay, women are seeping into higher levels of authority within organizations. Already, women account for more than one-third of managers, directors and senior officials, and that number is likely to rise in the coming years. In the past five years alone, the proportion of female managers in the workplace has increased dramatically — and that is true around the world, not just in the U.S. It is safe to say that this trend will continue, and businesses will need to shift their selling approach to cater to female buyers in B2B markets.

Decision-making processes

If men and women were exactly the same in their behavior, B2Bs might not need to alter their selling strategy as women gain greater authority in the workforce — however, this is not the case. Women make decisions differently than men do, and it is important to understand the discrepancies before you draft a strategy for attracting and converting female business contacts.

Generally speaking, women tend to approach purchases with a wider view, considering the needs and interests of multiple stakeholders. Additionally, women tend to be more inquisitive, asking questions about products and seeking reviews from previous clients. Women also feel less attachment to traditional rituals of sales, like wining and dining, and they are more willing to deviate from rules and regulations of doing business. Perhaps most importantly of all, women are more aware of sales and marketing tactics, meaning they demand a highly personalized sales approach.

3 Steps to selling to women

Knowing this, researchers have uncovered three necessary building blocks for successfully pivoting an organization toward the female B2B economy. These include:

Leadership commitment. An organization’s leaders need to recognize and commit to the shift toward female buyers. If you are an executive, you might become the force behind changing marketing and sales tactics at your company.

Tailored sales and delivery. Because it is becoming important to discern the gender of the buyer — as well as other personal information like role within an organization and type of business — it is imperative that businesses collect and leverage B2B intent data.

Workforce diversity. Sending an all-male sales team to an all-female prospect might not be a wise decision. A more natural way to win over female buyers is to boast a diverse sales team, replete with women who understand female buyers’ preferences. It is important that women are well-represented at all levels of your organization, so all decision-making processes take female employees’ and buyers’ needs into account.

Women and men aren’t all that different — but they are different enough that businesses need to approach them with differing strategies. The sooner your organization recognizes the growth of women in B2B, the better.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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