By Cheril Hendry, Ward’s Dealer Business 

I’ve been in this business for 27 years. Not selling cars but marketing them, mostly through dealership advertising. I’ve watched the power of the female car buyer grow to an unprecedented level of influence.

You’ve heard it a hundred times. Women dominate car-buying decisions, whether they’re going to own it, drive it or just have a say in it.

Like it or not, it is a buying trend that is here to stay.

So why then are so many women consumers disillusioned with the car-buying process?

Because, for many of today’s retail automotive salespeople, there still is a big misunderstanding of what women really want. In well-intended dealers’ efforts to fill in the blanks, they often make mistakes.

As a woman, industry veteran and consumer-behavior specialist, I’m offering three key points to share with your sales staff. If these points really sink in, good things will happen at your dealership.

Here they are:

1. Women don’t want to be treated like “women.”

That’s the tricky part. But get inside the head of a woman and it makes sense.

Women see themselves as human beings first, females second.

Stemming from that is the expectation that salespeople treat them the same way that they treat men but with the respect the female customers feel they deserve as women.

I can tell you as a woman, this is not easy.

 So, here’s the guidance I offer salesmen. Treat every customer — male or female — the same.

Treat them with respect as a fellow human being, appreciation as if they’ve bought 10 cars from you and the expectation that they will grade you on your knowledge and service before anything else.

If you can’t do this, you probably won’t make it in this industry, or you will linger at the bottom of it.

2. Women don’t want to negotiate with you, they want to trust you.

There is huge opportunity here for smart guys. Offer knowledge, honesty and true concern, and you’ll get your gross, plus referrals. But you have to be sincere. Most women can smell insincerity a mile away. If you’re faking it, don’t bother.

But if you gain a woman’s trust – because you deserve to – then price negotiation goes out the window. The man that she may have wanted to come along to protect her is now you.

Keep her trust all the way through delivery, and she will be your advocate, referring everyone she knows to you. Why such a big deal? Because treatment like this is so rare.

3. Women car shoppers use the internet more than men.

It’s safe to assume that most women who visit your showroom have visited your dealership website. They’ve also probably configured their car on the manufacturer’s site, valued their trade-in and read opinions on others and checked at least two other dealers’ inventories.

But they won’t let you know any of this, at least not until or unless they trust you. So keep it in mind when you talk with her. She feels armed with information, and she’s going to compare what you tell her with what she thinks she knows.

In the end, selling a woman a car is really no different than selling a man a car. It’s all about how much they like you.

Inventory, selection, the right price and good financing are now areas they believe they control. Car shoppers are really shopping for a salesperson they like and trust.

Use the tips mentioned here for female customers, and you’ll increase closing ratios, get higher CSI scores and see a good number of referrals.

This article used with permission from Ward’s Dealer Business.