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Three Reasons Why You Lose a Sale to a Woman


How many of your clients are couples? And how many of those couples include a woman? If you’re like most financial professionals, that’s the majority of your clients.

While men and women buy the same financial services and products, they often buy for different reasons. Her top criteria may not be his. Many couples include people with two different decision-making styles, priorities, experiences and concerns. The most successful financial professionals zero in on the criteria that matters most too both spouses.
What is this criteria? While not all women think alike and not all men think alike, there are some general differences. It makes sense to understand those differences so you can gain a competitive advantage when attracting and retaining female clients.

Why is this so important right now?

You’ve heard the statistics: In the U.S., women have decision-making power over $11.2 trillion, or 39 percent of the nation’s estimated $28.6 trillion in investable assets, according to the Center for Talent Innovation.1

Women have and control wealth and the business of many of these women is up for grabs.
Forty-four percent of U.S. women with at least $500,000 in investable assets or at least $100,000 in annual income don’t have a financial adviser. The number soars to 76 percent for those under age 40. In the U.S. alone, this may amount to more than $5 trillion in assets “left on the table.”2

Whether she is a solo client or part of a couple, it’s important to know what to do and NOT to do when trying to win her business.

In fact, there are usually three reasons why you lose a sale to a woman. Whether you’re selling yourself, an annuity, or an investment strategy, you’ll close more sales if you know what these three common mistakes are and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1
You didn’t answer her questions.

Within couples, it’s not unusual to have one spouse who is more of a “Take Action” type, and one who is more of a “Think It Through” type. Often the “Think It Through” type is a woman. She has more questions she wants answered before she is ready to take action.

Many financial professionals make the mistake of not fully answering her questions. This is the main cause of the dreaded response, “I need more time to think about it.” Chances are that client has questions she needs answered before she’s ready to say, “Yes.”

For example, have you ever been in a meeting and a woman says, “I’m sorry for asking so many questions?” You may think she is apologizing. She isn’t. She is asking permission to ask more questions. She likely has picked up something in your body language that suggests you are getting impatient.

A common response to this is, “There are no stupid questions.” Do NOT use this response. You may be insinuating her by saying her questions are stupid. She likely believes her questions are actually quite relevant. Instead, respond by saying, “I love questions. I don’t want you leaving here with a question in your head.”

Action Step: Welcome questions. In your meetings, make sure to pause and ask, “Any questions?” and “Anything else?” And, “Do you have questions I haven’t fully answered?”

Mistake #2
You didn’t address her concerns.

Women are often more risk aware. Note the word “aware” not “averse.” Women will take on risk if they understand its overall role in their financial plan. Women are talented at long-term thinking that plans for problems and then avoiding those problems. As a result, they often have more concerns that need to be addressed.

A key question to ask all your clients is, “What do you NOT want to happen?” The answer will give you important insight into what matters the most to her. Plus, simply asking the question sends the message you take her concerns seriously.

Action Step: Ask, “What do you NOT want to happen?” “Have I addressed your concerns?” and “Tell me more about your concern.” When she feels like you understand her concerns, she is more likely to trust you and accept your recommendations.

Mistake #3
You didn’t make a personal connection.

A high net worth client was asked why she chose her financial advisor. She responded that she interviewed three advisors and they were all competent and accomplished. But the deciding factor for choosing her advisor was that he coached his daughter’s softball team, and this sent the message he cared about raising strong daughters. She felt he shared her values.

When you are working with clients, be sure to share why you do what you do. Answer the question, “I do what I do because. . .” What is the deeper purpose of your work? How do you make a difference in the lives of your clients? What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?

Women (and men) will make key judgments about you, your values, and your integrity. This goes directly to your clients’ unspoken question, “Do you have my best interest at heart?”

Action Step: Talk about why you do what you do. Answer the question “I do what I do because. . .”, “I love my job because. . .”

Also, in your office, have conversation pieces that let you talk about your values. It could be a picture of your daughter playing softball, an invitation to your table at a charity fund-raiser or a favorite quote on your wall.

I know a female advisor who has a copy of Warren Buffet’s Invests Like a Girl on her desk. It gives her a chance to talk with her clients about how she and Warren Buffet share many of the same values and investment strategies.

Bottom line: Most advisors don’t understand the differences in how you sell to women versus how you sell to men. Those that do understand this have a tremendous competitive advantage. Answer her questions, address her concerns and make a personal connection. Work these three things into your process and you’ll close more sales with women and their spouses.


Holly Buchanan Holly Buchanan is the author of Selling Financial Services to Women – What Men Need to Know and Even Women Will Be Surprised to Learn. Holly Buchanan has spent the last decade helping financial professionals be more successful selling to women and couples.

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