When it comes to valuing gender diversity, while the automotive industry has made great strides—there’s still a long way to go.
The idea that women don’t care or know anything about cars or car purchasing is an archaic concept. A consumer’s knowledge is not based on their gender, but rather with their interests and upbringing. With the internet, all the information you could need is available online—which empowers both men and women who are concerned with getting a good deal, and challenges the idea that only a man is going to understand the minutiae of purchasing a vehicle.
As women represent more and more of a vehicle’s buying audience, it’s important for salespeople to understand their buying power.
According to Jody DeVere, CEO of women in automotive website AskPatty.com, women purchase 65% of new vehicles. The same percentage take the car into the service department. And 85% of car-buying decisions in North America are influenced by women. That means that even if a woman isn’t making the final purchase, her opinion holds great sway over the choice. This type of influence demands respect.
If those numbers are a surprise to you, they’re not to DeVere. She calls women the “chief purchasing officers” for their households.
It’s a fact that, if it hasn’t already, should change everything about your approach to selling cars.
There’s a big difference in how men and women approach the car-buying journey. Women will often first consider the bigger picture of car buying.
You might find that a women and men alike want to know the same information, but in a different order. Men often hone in on the technical details or “fun factors” first, like horsepower, tech and specs, and then address whether or not it will actually be practical.
Women want the same details but they often will start by asking if the vehicle will meet their needs: fuel economy, trunk space, safety features and the like. Horsepower and technical specifications are still important—but are secondary in the research. That means your product presentation needs to encompass the whole picture.
The Sales Experience
The drive to negotiate the best price is gender-neutral. Both men and women have the same online tools to understand what is or isn’t a good deal.
For this reason, your in-dealership experience has become more important than ever, perhaps even more so than the vehicle itself. For women, who because of mainstream car culture are often wary of being discriminated against based on their gender—a great experience with the salesperson can be as powerful a determining factor as selecting the right car. A bad interaction can impact the immediate visit, and colour any potential future trips to your dealership. And that’s not even considering the ramifications of a bad review on your future potential business.
It’s said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.” Listening is a great way to make all your customers feel important—that their needs are being heard and that their sales associate is actually working on a solution that makes sense—not just a walking wallet to be emptied.
Women drive household buying. And they affect 70% to 80% of all consumer purchasing, either through actual buying power or influence over those around them.
Concentrate on tailoring the sales experience to satisfy men and women equally and you’ll make great strides in serving your female clientele—without being patronizing.
Listen carefully during the sales process. Forget about the old stereotypes. And do your absolute best to earn and keep your customer’s trust. This approach will serve you well, no matter who you’re selling to.