Be patient, not pushy. Women shopping for flooring are typically savvy consumers who are not going to be pressured into an abrupt decision. She seeks insider information and a variety of views. Equally important, she wants to shop in an environment where she feels comfortable.

Believe me, nothing tests your skill selling to women like pitching a product live on a home shopping network. I should know-I did it for 17 years. The products I promoted were my very own line of skincare essentials and botanicals. With earpiece firmly planted as my link to the director and a monitor in view off-camera to help me track the responses, there I was talking beauty to an unseen TV audience.  

You learn very quickly what works and what does not as the segment chugs along. And boy, if it started going downhill you could see it on the monitor and hear it in your earpiece! I had a lot of help making the sale right then and there. But when you’re on the showroom floor, you’re on your own. So pretend for a moment I’m your director, your show is about to start. In walks your first guest, now … 3…2…1…Action!

Don’t keep her waiting.Remember, women are serious shoppers. They take everything in, immediately making mental notes of the environment that create her overall impression of you and your store. The waiting time is by far the single most important factor affecting her opinion of your service.

Be an environmentalist.I’m not talking saving the whales here (although I’m all for that) … I’m talking about the shape of your store’s environment. Granted, most showrooms are cluttered with various displays, but be careful not to overdo it.

Be mindful of details.Be conscious of the music you play in the store. What sounds good to a 20-something probably won’t work for your 40-something clientele. Tidiness matters, so be extra fussy about it. If you have a coffee pot for customers, keep it clean enough for your mom to approve. And for goodness sake, if you must smoke don’t stand near the entrance puffing away. (Nothing turns off a female customer faster than getting a whiff of cigarette smoke as she walks in.)

Listen, then speak.She doesn’t want to hear your stories. She wants you to hear hers. Listen carefully, then personalize your pitch to her needs. (This calls on your product knowledge, which should be one of you key strengths, by the way.) In her book Marketing to Women, Marti Barletta stresses the importance of answering every question thoroughly. Avoid slamming the competition and extend small courtesies with genuine sincerity. By the way, when women are more comfortable, they tend to ask more questions-and that’s good!

Give her space. Women shoppers want to roam around in a showroom that is not cramped or cluttered  If she's not comfortable, she won't stick around.

Give her space.In Why We Buy-The Science of Shopping,Paco Underhill urges retailers to walk their stores and ask themselves “Can I stand and shop here without being jostled from behind?” Women are particularly sensitive to spatial requirements. This can be a challenge in a flooring store, given that almost everywhere in the showroom is what Underhill describes as a “dwell zone” (this is because floor covering displays are meant to be browsed and studied). You have to make the most of limited space and make sure she does not feel cramped. But remember, if she’s not comfortable, she won’t stick around.

Guys are a bonus.Study after study shows that when a retailer caters to women regarding service, merchandising, environment and so on, men respond positively too. Interestingly, it never works in the reverse. Go figure.

For more advice I recommendDon’t Think Pink by Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned. In it, they look at the ways women develop and use smart shopping skills. They urge you to create an environment dedicated to helping her make the best choice, not closing the quickest sale. Remember, women tend to be constituent-driven decision makers. Does your approach recognize her responsibility as one?

We also learn from Don’t Think Pink that women favor ongoing relationships and seek insider information. She does not like to be pushed so be patient. Realize that she may need to get the opinions of others. Women like to comparison shop so don’t be afraid to encourage it. After all, you will ultimately win her business-right?

For a report card on how female friendly your advertising, website and store environment are, email me: