It has been an honor and pleasure to speak and conduct breakout sessions back to back the most recent Women’s in Automotive (WIA) Conference. Every time I attend a networking event, sit in the general session, participate in other breakouts, and of course inspiring change through the sessions I conduct, I get filled up with excitement, passion, and pure gratefulness that a movement like this exists. I was asked to write a summary article of my session from the most recent conference in Orlando. If you want to find out what makes a real difference to The Decision Maker during the car shopping experience, read on! Plus, there is a little bonus at the end of the article I am sure you want to know about!
Why does it matter; why should you tailor the brand experience to the Decision Maker; the woman?
Besides the fact that women are the original social media, sharing their stories of outstanding experiences and happenings in life with just about anyone that will listen, they have now been given a platform to spread their message far and wide, and the whole world is listening. On the opposite end of exceptional experiences an inconsistent and disjointed experience (which is what most women receive when shopping for a vehicle); women will share these stories with the same passion as they do the good ones.
Women are also the Chief Purchasing Officer in their home and are the number one referral source. Carl Sewell, the author of ‘Customers for life,’ states that the lifetime value of a customer equates to $517,000. By not curating an experience for the female buyer not only are you losing her lifetime value, but you are also losing the potential of her referral network, and with the social platform she is handed; Ms.Social will let the world know her opinions on a massive scale.
Let’s face it; although we would like to have seen a more significant shift in gender equality through the years, there hasn’t been a huge leap forward. 85% of the world’s executives are still men, and in the car industry, men hold over 80% of the positions within dealerships. This means that the car shopping experience is still designed by men, for men, and delivered by men. The urgency to flip the lens, put ourselves in the shoes of the world’s most influential consumers shoes and create standards that help sales associates create an experience that lives up to her expectations is even more prevalent as women will walk away and choose another dealer to purchase from.
Want to know why it’s important to focus on her experience? The female consumer has a direct impact on your top line and future success!
Five tips to tailor your brand experience to the Decision Maker; The Woman
During my session at WIA, the participants learned the key physiological differences between men and women and together we took a journey through The Decision Makers eyes and came up with ways that dealerships can tailor their brand experience to the female consumer. I am going to share with you the five top tips on how you can customize the Consumer Brand Experience in your dealership for the woman consumer.
1. Understand The Decision Maker
Creating a Consumer Persona is a great exercise to do with your team. Not only will it provide a greater understanding of the “Chief Purchasing Officer”, but will allow your team to be part of the solution. It’s important to remember when creating a Consumer Persona for the female consumer that she wants to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer. Having this knowledge will allow your team to put themselves in her shoes at a 30,000-foot vantage point which will lead to more compassion and empathy fo the woman standing in front of them.
2. Journey Through HER Eyes
Once you have a 30,000-foot view of the female consumers that shop with you it’s time to break down the journey from her perspective. Perception is the customer’s reality. When designing a program for the female consumer (or any consumer or employee ), it is imperative that the experience is designed from their point of you. The golden rule that grandma preached; treat others the way you want to be treated is a thing of the past. You must live by the platinum rule; treat others the way they need or want to be treated. If you do not see the journey through her eye, from where she stands, you will always fall short and disappoint the consumer.
3. Create Real Relationships
Building a trust account with your female consumer base is extremely important when it comes to her desire to purchase a vehicle and refer you. One of the most significant differences between male and female consumers is that women WANT to create a relationship with the sales associate; whereas men could go either way. In a recent study I lead, 69% of the female participants said that the sales associate didn’t take time to get to know her, the same 69% also said that they didn’t trust the sales associate. Women crave connection; they are physiologically built that way; her limbic brain (the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories) is double the size of a man’s. Her decisions are driven by the way she feels about you, your brand and the experience you provide.
With almost everyone doing their research online, the majority of your customers come to you with the knowledge of the car they want, the trim level, and the price they are willing to pay for it. All you have to do is seal the deal with a great relationship. Get to know your consumer and create a real connection through actively listening, showing compassion and empathy, and taking an interest in what she needs or wants (even if it’s outside of purchasing a car!)
4. Cultivate Culture
If women don’t want to work for you, why would they want to buy from you? The culture you cultivate is a direct reflection of the ease and comfortability of your customers. If your team treats each other with the same (if not better) experience as your customers, your customers will feel it. Cultivate a culture where women are equal, they are thought of as an equal, and your team views them as equal.
A great way to start this culture shift is to ask your female employees what they would like to experience in a work environment and as a customer. The women of your dealership will feel as if you care about their opinions and will give you great insight! It’s a win-win.
5. Train For EQ
Even though this advice is listed last, it is not the least important. If a team member has high EQ, they will be able to execute tip 2 & 3, without this creating a real relationship and a tailored experience becomes very tough. It’s important to have the skills and knowledge to do the job; however, we can train most of these skills. One of the top reasons women walk out of dealerships is because they don’t like the way they were approached or treated. Those with high EQ can read people’s nonverbal cues and can adjust their approach based on the needs of each consumer. You want to focus your training on soft skills (EQ) and layer in the IQ as you go. When you blend EQ & IQ, you will receive complete engagement from your female consumer.
Each one of these tips will help to create an experience that will promote a female-friendly environment and increase the number of females shopping in your dealership, which untimely will increase your CSI results on all fronts.
By Katie Mares