Note: This is the second of a three-part series on a subject that needs more that a single column to do it justice, because women are critical to your success. Click here to read the first part.
In the recruitment process, and throughout your corporate structure, it is critical to create a welcoming and women friendly environment to reflect how women prefer to interact—the kind of place she would feel genuinely connected to the people and culture of the dealership. Here are a few ways to give the right first impression:
- Make the effort to ensure that she is greeted by name, by your receptionist or assistant when she enters to let her know that she is expected.
- Your office and environment should include personal touches—family photos, children’s artwork, community involvement items, hobby memorabilia, etc. This will convey the sense that she is joining a team of real people with real lives and relatable interests, not a faceless operation. These items also fuel the trust-building process and conversation.
- Extend a firm, respectful palm-to-palm handshake and make eye contact when greeting her.
- Sitting across from her behind a desk creates a physical and psychological barrier between you. Instead, position your chairs at a 90 degree angle for more collaborative conversation. Better yet, conduct your discussions at a round table.
Are we speaking different languages?
Understanding gender communications is vital in becoming a better recruiter or manager as well as a better salesperson. On the men’s side, less personal topics such as business, money, sports and solving problems are common in conversation. They give short answers, sweetened with few details. Men are competitive communicators who love topping one another’s stories and are not shy about interrupting someone else mid-sentence. Men in casual conversation tend to maintain a certain amount of space and stand more at an angle to each other. A simple nod means, “I agree.”
Women, on the other hand, tend to sit or stand where they can look each other in the eyes. They sit closer and have more intimate conversations, even if they are not close friends. Women enjoy telling detailed stories, focusing mostly on people, relationships, feelings and connections. They wait their turn to speak and seek to understand and be understood. A nod means “I’m listening,” not “I agree.” Women also tend to use more qualifiers, disclaimers and apologies, often as a way of maintaining “equal status.” They value opportunities to help or support each other, their families and their community, especially when it involves socializing with other women.
In the recruiting process, focus on meshing your communication style with hers to help both of you put your best foot forward:
- Get to know prospective female employees as people, not as a list of credentials or a skill set. Interviews should be conducted more conversationally and less as a barrage of questions. Let her get to know you, too; she needs to get a feel for whether you are the type of person with whom she works well.
- Practice active listening. As she speaks, acknowledge and encourage her through small gestures such as nodding or saying, “I see,” or “Really? Tell me more!” Paraphrase her words back to her, both for clarification as well as to show her that you were paying close attention.
- Don’t interrupt, as it shows disrespect and tells her that as an employee her thoughts and opinions will not be valued.
- Highlight that a sales associate’s job is forming relationships and getting involved in the community, not just discussing numbers and contracts.
- Women are interested in training and education, so talk in detail about what she can expect.
- Involve others in the process, especially trainers and successful reps, for a more collaborative and team-oriented approach. Arrange for her to spend a day with a successful female salesperson so she can get a feel for the action. Many times, this will seal the deal for a candidate as she will think, “If she can do it, so can I!”