Anticipate Women’s Needs
Women generally prefer businesses that anticipate their needs. If the business’ attitude is, “take it or leave it,” Shannon said, women will leave it.
Shannon suggested that sales agents make the buying experience appealing to women. Treat women with respect, she said, and don’t underestimate their ability to make the buying decision. “When you see a man coming through the door with a woman, assume she’s the one making the decision,” she said. Also, if the woman arrives alone, “Don’t ask, ‘So, when can you bring your husband back?’ ”
Other tips Shannon offered included:
- Provide a separate area to occupy the kids while the adults discuss home details.
- Give buyers a way to photographically chronicle the progress of their new home.
- Take women to their prospective home sites rather than hand them a site plan and expect them to navigate their way in high heels.
Understand the Values and Trends That Guide Them
Doris Pearlman, MIRM, president of Possibilities for Design, Inc. of Denver, said women don’t just buy a product, they bond with it or “join it.” When buying a home, character, comfort and community are elements that affect their decision.
Pearlman also said women like to explore before reaching their decision. Catalogs, the Internet, home and garden television shows and magazines all influence their decision.
Real, rustic, reminiscent, revered and traditional are the design trends that women are drawn to, Pearlman said, while adding that an Asian influence is attracting women as well.
Regarding color, Pearlman pointed to coastal water tones, spice tones, Asian neutrals and the brights as being popular with women today. Because women are online and use the Internet more than men today, she stressed that builders use integrated, multimedia marketing that includes Web sites, traditional newspaper and magazine advertising and other marketing avenues to reach women.
She also noted that sales agents should market to the multiple facets of a woman’s life, and that many women believe that the next purchase will improve their lives.
Market to Their Five Senses
Shannon noted that when marketing to women, you should market to all five of their senses:
- Sight — Keep the job site clean and the sales agent’s desk uncluttered. Also, use designers to showcase model homes and create a comfortable office setting.
- Sound — Play pleasant music in the models, pay attention to acoustics in the sales office and incorporate gurgling water treatments in courtyards and outdoors.
- Smell — Keep fresh flowers in the office and use scent lamp rings that compliment the decorating themes in your models.
- Taste — Offer fresh coffee, cookies fresh from the oven or bottled water.
- Feel — Wallpaper, upholstery, even a brochure can be used to project a tactile experience that women appreciate. Shannon also suggested a private closing room to put prospects at ease.
Shannon admonished convention-goers to “sweat the details” because “everything matters” and women will notice. If there is a wetlands preservation program in your community, she said, it could be as big a selling point among women as the hardware on the kitchen cabinets or the cleanliness of the models and courtesy of the staff.
Shannon, Pearlman and Charles Clarke III, MIRM, of Charles Clarke Consulting in Gainesville, GA, agreed that women prefer to choose from selections that include more options and customization.
“Women are the decision-makes of your most profitable option sales, and they often buy on impulse,” Shannon said. She recommended that builders and sales agents let women know what they can duplicate in the models. Give women the options for customization, noted Pearlman, “She’ll thank you.”
Clarke reiterated that women have different personalities and that sales agents need to recognize those differences when selling to women. One size does not fit all, he said.
Help Women Connect
All three experts also emphasized that builders and sales agents give women the opportunity to connect with the home and the community. “Women are great connectors,” Pearlman said. “Involve women in the development of the product.”
Shannon recommended letting women share their ideas and information with each other by actively soliciting opinions and suggestions for changes. This enables them to share feelings, ideas and information and helps build loyalty.
“Knock on the door of those who have bought in the last six months and ask, ‘If you could change one thing, what would that be?’ Then ask why they chose you as their builder,” Shannon said. Ask your buyers what they want, she said — and then listen.
Institute of Residential Marketing Offers Courses and Designation Programs
The Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) offers four sales and marketing designation programs that set sales and marketing professionals apart from the competition. For a complete list of current offerings, click here.
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