Women’s Wednesday #74: Unconscious Bias Doesn’t Just Happen at Coffee Shops

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Unconscious behaviors of your front- and back-end teams can be difficult to recognize, but they can make the difference between a successful transaction and one that fails. Taking the intentional steps to recognize unconscious bias when it comes to women has a direct, positive impact on your store’s bottom line.

Consider These Numbers:

  • 60% of women who leave a dealership without buying a car never return.
  • 59% of women don’t buy at a branded dealership closest to their home.
  • 46% of women go to three dealerships while shopping – this is twice the national average.

Women identify TRUST and RESPECT as their top reasons for buying from a specific dealership and sales advisor. So women who don’t perceive that this is going to happen or is happening will go elsewhere. These emotive factors can be challenging to establish if your women customers sense unconscious bias.

What Is It?
Unconscious bias can come in many forms and starts with assumptions about a customer and what she needs. Here are some examples where bias might creep into a sales discussion:

  1. A woman shopping on her own might only be looking until her husband can come with her.
  2. The man accompanying a woman must be her partner or husband.
  3. A woman shopping alone or with children probably requires a lot of guidance about the type of car she needs.
  4. A woman shopping for a luxury car probably can’t afford it.

These examples show how easily ideas can enter a sales advisor’s thinking without any effort. Everyone makes assumptions. Our brains work that way; it’s natural. However, when these assumptions cut into dealership sales, corrective action must be taken.

5 Tips to Prevent Unconscious Bias

1. Know the right questions to ask. The best way to overcome bias is to gather information. Establish a list of questions to ask your customers and frame them in a positive light. For example, “Do you have a car in mind?” can identify what type of car interests your prospect. “Is the car for you personally?” identifies if she is shopping for herself or her family. Asking short questions opens the discussion for gathering more information and immediately sets the stage for the rest of the deal.

2. Assume your prospect has most of the information she needs. Chances are, a woman has done her research before coming to a dealership. Internet searches are standard preparation. A sales advisor’s role today is to help answer questions and guide the process.

3. Don’t try to help a woman make up her mind. The days are long gone when a woman tolerates being led through her decisions. Women are savvy customers when it comes to car shopping. Assume they understand what they need.

4. Realize that trust is the number one goal in customer engagement. Selling a car is great, but establishing a long-term, trusted relationship is more important. Trust can never be established if a sales advisor makes an incorrect assumption based on unconscious bias. It’s best to create a profile of a prospect based ONLY on what the woman tells you.

5. Choosing the right form of communication can make or break a deal. Today’s social media world has expanded the forms of communication. Customers have contact preferences. Ask women how they prefer to be contacted and honor their wishes. Some may prefer a phone call. Others might want email. Text messages are another option but should be used carefully to avoid overuse. Customers have several activities competing for their attention, so don’t be “that message” that causes annoyance.

Be Proactive
Selling autos in today’s world is challenging. People have volumes of information at their fingertips and many choices when it comes to buying a car. Savvy dealerships work to enhance their ability to be a trusted partner and are proactive about eliminating negative bias that can send women customers elsewhere. Eliminating unconscious bias and replacing it with solid information-gathering will drive dollars directly to your bottom line and ensure that your dealership becomes a trusted destination for women.