We do Ask The Expert calls every week. Our standard number of impressions is somewhere around 10,000 business owners each week. An amazing thing happened the day we hosted an Ask The Expert call about women in business and the challenges they face- we had over 1.5M impressions.
What does that tell us?
As a female entrepreneur, there are definitely things that I notice a difference to me from my peers. In the corporate environment they were absolute differences between how the men that reported to me led and responded to information, and how their female peers did.
My favorite lesson this quarter about the difference between men and women is the level of confidence with which they approach sales.
Someone told me, men are taught to expect no. They spend their whole life asking women on dates with the expectation of more of them say no than would say yes. They play baseball, where if you miss 7 out of 10 balls, your inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Women on the other hand, hate the word no. No is a form of failure.
All you ladies out there, I know you must have heard of Sheryl Sandberg. I, like millions of other women read 'Lean In' and was incredibly moved. I completely connected with things that were said and still challenge myself every day to lean in.
After one of our Peer Advisory Board meetings this week, a predominately female group discussed similar challenges closing a sale. One of the men in this group (a gifted closer) jumped up and started extolling "fail proof strategies" to close a sale. The challenge was, when a woman tries to close like anyone else but a themselves, the authenticity evaporates but so do the results.
As the meeting progressed, an honest conversation about the differences between male and female entrepreneurs erupted.
These were some common themes:
1. Women like to help and solve problems as part of building a relationship; which often times backfires as the prospective client adapts a "Why buy the cow..." philosophy.
2. Women don't enjoy the hard sell tactics men seem so comfortable with leveraging.
3. There was a common gap between talent and confidence level. Even the most confident and talented woman in the group shared that she didn't have the same level of confidence as her male competitors.
4. Women lack the support of other women.
5. Women have to balance running a household with running a business.
The beauty of our Peer Advisory boards is what happened next. These talented CEOs pulled together to support each other, offer advice and create a plan to overcome some of the challenges they faced. Here was some of the advice they had for each other:
1. Be authentic. Challenege yourself to ask questions that build relationships and stir awareness in your prospective client. Guard your output in the sales process.
2. Learn affirmative phrases that reflect your confidence and match your personality, such as "Oh Jeez, I'm so sorry you're going through that. I've helped several clients with the same problem and I know how much pain they were in before we solved it. Let me just tell you, it can get easier."
3. Women need to back up their message with solid business case. Prepare for any possible question prior to going into a meeting. Remember, your advantage is your intuitive thinking. Women tend to have a much stronger pulse on the emotional IQ of their prospective client than a man will. Go in knowing that you have the advantage.
4. Be OK with not being at every PTO meeting or field trip. An investment in a housekeeper is sometimes a far better investment than other business expenses. If you can do things to leave your distractions and stress at the door, you'll be more focused on your family and your business.
5. Find other women as role models.
Because of this powerful conversation, women are invited to join us the last Thursday of each month (June 25th) as we unite with other powerful women from 12-1pm EST. Click this link to get dial in information:
Small Business USA is honored to sponsor this call each month. We've asked Liz Dederer and a few impressive leaders to join us and help start a conversation. We hope you will too! If you can't make it, please join our Linked In group (Steel Heels ) to join in the conversation. We look forward to empowering each other!