Call for a New Sales Model: Selling financial services to women

Marketers in the financial services industry must truly understand the modern woman to successfully gain share in the lucrative women?s market, organizers of a national conference on marketing to women say. The most successful marketers will tell you that effective selling to women means understanding that women are not looking to simply make a transaction, but are interested in building a beneficial relationship.

Produced by PME Enterprises L.L.C., a sales and marketing agency in Hartford, Conn., the two-day annual spring Marketing-to-Women Conference, or M2W, is designed to help businesses increase what PME describes as their emotional, cognitive and financial share of the women?s market. ?As we enter the twenty-first century, women?s financial might is set to exceed all expectations, and women will begin to wield the enormous clout that money and power is bringing them,? says Fara Warner, author of The Power of the Purse (Prentice Hall, 2005) and a former M2W presenter. ?What women demand today goes far beyond the simplistic marketing efforts of the past that too often focused on women as a minority. Businesses that recognize the immense and growing financial power of women?and how that power is reshaping the very fabric of our society?will have found an incredible competitive advantage that they can capitalize on for decades,? she says.

At the third annual M2W, held April 25-26 in Chicago, financial services executives called for a new model for selling financial services to women. According to Yankelovich Inc., an authority on consumer attitudes, 84 percent of women say they are misunderstood by investment marketers.

?Old sales messages that come from a superior position, saying things like ?you shouldn?t have bought? or ?don?t worry your pretty head? don?t work with women, especially when selling intangibles like financial services,? says Maria Umbach, marketing vice president at Prudential Financial Inc. ?Whether you?re in sales or marketing, creating the right environment for women to trust you, feel safe and feel a sense of community is the cornerstone. It is also important to make it fun and interesting, perhaps by blending in other elements other than just financial topics,? Umbach says.

According to PME, women spend about $5 trillion annually, more than half the U.S. gross domestic product; start 70 percent of new businesses; account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases; and represent the bulk of the online market. In individual consumer markets, PME says, they account for:

? 91 percent of new homes

? 66 percent of personal computers

? 92 percent of vacations

? 80 percent of health-care services

? 65 percent of new cars

? 89 percent of bank accounts

? 93 percent of food

? 93 percent of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.