Connecting To Women

Women buy over 80% of all goods and services, and spend over $4.4 trillion dollars every year doing it.   Most retailers have built a world that caters almost exclusively to females.  According to Brene Brown in her book “I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)” the hair industry alone benefits from this spending up to $38 billion dollars where the skin care and makeup industry represents $42 billion dollars.
Except when it comes to the sports related activities. 
According to Leisure Trends in an October 2013 Textile magazine article, women’s products in the hot growth sectors of cycling specialty, run specialty and outdoor accounted for $3.5 billion in sales. Even Under Armour is making it a priority to connect with women.  They are doing it byallowing like-minded women to connect with their product and each other through common goals (working out). 
Before we can connect to these women we must first recognize that they ARE coming into your stores and then we must learn to listen to them. I thought I was a good listener.  But then I read some of these stats: Can we attribute where these stats came from?
  1. In a typical business day, we spend 45% of our time listening, 30% of our time talking, 16% reading and 9% writing
  2. Humans generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate.  OUCH!
  3. Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques yet, more than 35 business studies indicate that             listening is a top skill needed for success in business.
  4. Immediately after we listen to someone, we only recall about 50% of what they said.

This explains why we forget the persons name right after we are introduced to them.
  5. Long-term, when you leave hear today you will only remember 20% of what you hear.

  6. We talk at a rate of 125-175 words per minute, listen at a rate of 125-250 words per minute, but think at a rate of 1000 – 3000 words per minute.  The processing gaps create opportunities for distraction and failure to listen attentively
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Number 6 is interesting…have you ever been on a phone call and thought “well I’m going to check my email.”  Or gotten a few more things on your list done while sitting in a class?  Or quickly checked your phone, while you’re behind the cash wrap? 
LISTEN UP to these stats: 

  1. We burn 10 IQ points for each distraction. That’s the same as missing a full night’s sleep.
  2.  On average, employees who use a computer for work are distracted once every 10.5            minutes.
  3.  And we are not truly relaxing, either: 67% of people use smart phones on dates; 45% do it at        movie theaters; and 33% check phones in church.
  4.  Trying to focus on more than one thing causes a 40% drop in productivity– which is twice the  effect of smoking marijuana.                                    
  5. Texting while driving more than doubles a drivers reaction, which is the equivalent of a 70-year-old man who is drunk.

You can’t listen and multi-task at the same time.  Learn to listen.  They are new muscles, habits to become effective at listening.  Here’s a quick exercise: Write down 3 ways you want to practice effective listening from now on.
Once you have demonstrated that you can listen, the next step is “LET ME TELL MY STORY!”  Women love to tell stories.  And we probably are dropping hints to you to see if you really are listening to us.  I recently was in the market for some compression socks so I went to my local running store and told the sales associate that I had just had foot surgery and needed some compression socks.  He took me to the wall of socks and pointed at the selection.  Not knowing what size I needed I asked.  He looked at my leg and said your calves are big, probably a large.
Now a lot went wrong with this experience.  He is right,I do have big calves,but I don’t need to hear that…and I really wanted to talk about my foot surgery because if he was really listening, he would have found out that I’m really in the market for a new pair of running shoes sincemy foot size has changed as a result of the surgery.  I did buy the socks, but I’m still running in my old shoes.
I realize in retail you don’t have very much time to make a connection let alone find out her story, but it is SO easy.  And can happen so quickly.  I was in my local coffee shop and the sales clerk complemented me on my jewelry.  She quickly found out that pearls are my birthstone and now knows that I am a Gemini.  The Delta gate agent who was checking my ID noticed that my hair had changed and made a remark.  He quickly learned that I had just cut off 15 inches of my hair.  Every woman has a story…let her tell it.
Once you hear the woman’s story you have gained her trust and her guard has come down.  Now you get to begin to direct and make recommendation.  You get to solve her problems. 
No matter what you’reselling, you’re the expert in the features and benefits department.  As anexample, if I came into your store looking for a bathing suit, you get to go through all the features (elasticized bottom band, UPF 50+ rating, adjustable multi strap) and benefits (full coverage, secure fit etc) and then Imagery will connect it back to my story:  “This suit is going to really support you when you’redoing yoga on your SUP board this summer.”  You’re showing me that you have listened, heard my story and now are solving my problems. You have created a connection.
We speak of “TribeBuilding” in our work with clients. In essence, its developing long lasting relationships with customers by sharing the joy and opportunities of the respective activities, whether it be cycling, outdoors or running. In the specialty retail industries that we work in, the woman seems to be the oddity that no one can figure out.  We’re not that complicated.  Once you understand how to connect with me, you’ll create a loyal fan of your store, I will tell my friends,  I will come back.  I will be part of the tribe.

For information on how The Mann Group can help your store achieve higher top line sales, engaged employees and super loyal customers, please contact Leslie at lcunningham@manngroup.net or give her a call at 1-800-936-3049 ext 701.

About the author – Leslie Cunningham is a mom, active cyclist, runner and the Chief Connection Officer at The Mann Group. Leslie is a master of maintaining relationships. From her photography work with celebrities including John Mellencamp, Mikhail Gorbachev and Michael Andretti, to publishing a book that is empowering new mothers everywhere. Leslie knows people. 

For the past 20+ years she has perfected the art of connecting with people. Leslie has been a Human Resources Director for over 150 small business owners developing training, workers compensation and employee benefit programs. Leslie worked as a HR Executive during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2001. She also managed fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House raising over a quarter of a million dollars in one evening.  Leslie connects with people and walks along side of the them until they are living their life with ease and passion. “I sense where people are unhappy and connect them to solutions.”

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