What challenges face women in building the kind of business relationships that can lead to selling their professional services? Lots of business relationships are built at ballgames and on the golf course. Men are generally more likely to enjoy both. Some women feel golf is critical. Others are happy to find other ways to develop business.
What issues are different for women in building the business relationships necessary to sell personal services to men? Baby Boomer women are uncomfortable asking a man out for dinner or drinks because of the risk of sexual innuendo. Millennial women seem more comfortable doing so with men of their own generation – but not with older men.
While there are many successful women in sales, proportionally fewer are good at selling themselves (e.g., as a provider of professional services). Both older and younger women have a hard time “tooting their own horn.” Women find it easier, in general, to sell others and may do a “soft sell.” Reluctance to sell oneself is deeply rooted in nature (brain structure and hormones) and nurture. The “confidence gap” may affect some women’s ability to sell themselves.
Are there different or more difficult challenges in the area of business development for women vs. men? Women in general express less confidence and have a harder time “tooting their own horn” or selling themselves. In building relationships with male prospects, women have to choose a social setting that is comfortable for both – and does not look like a “date” or “come on.” Women need to stretch their boundaries and learn to enjoy “male” sports – like golf; that is where business is developed! There may be leftovers of old ways of thinking about women. Male prospects may have different or lower cultural expectations about women.
In my book and blogs, I explore differences in masculine and feminine approaches to work — e.g., the value of relationships, structure, decision-making, work style and communication style. There are strengths and limitations to the feminine approach. One limitation is in selling products, services and one’s self. The feminine approach avoids the hard sell and tooting one’s own horn. I teach this difference. Yet I am personally hampered by the feminine approach to self-promotion. I have hired a coach to help me LEARN to toot my own horn and be more effective at having others see the value of what I offer.