When you set up a sales appointment to meet with homeowners to discuss their new roof and why they should choose the brand of asphalt roofing shingles you recommend, how often is a woman present? If you’re like most of the professional roofing contractors we’ve talked to, it’s pretty much a given.
According to Forbes and various other sources:
- Among homeowners, the buying decision is influenced by women 90 percent of the time.
- They account for 80 percent or more of all home improvement sales.
- In the United States, 91 percent of women surveyed feel that advertisers and retailers don’t understand them.
Imagine what it might do for your bottom line profitability if you were able to successfully bridge that gap and tap into that under-served market. In this article, we’ll explain what women reportedly want and how you can modify your approach to achieve greater sales success with them. There are some very easy and cost-effective solutions that only require your awareness and understanding to implement.
First, let’s agree that while men and women are equals, they do think and behave quite differently. In general, men focus on transactions; women focus on relationships. It’s so important to understand, respect and appreciate those differences while avoiding stereotypes.
- Women are three times more likely than men to talk about their experiences – good or bad – with your company.
- A whopping 92 percent of women pass along information about deals or finds to their networks.
- Women have, on average, 171 contacts in their email or mobile lists.
For more eye-opening insights, read Marketing to Women: 30 Stats to Know.
That means a good interaction with a female customer can be a sales multiplier, spreading your business to her friends and family, while a negative interaction can potentially harm your business’ reputation. The stakes are high when marketing to women, and too many companies are still getting it wrong. Don’t be one of them!
So What DO Women Want?
Paco Underhill, author of What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping, has a short list largely based on retail shopping but these four elements can be extended to aspects of how you present yourself and your company to female prospects. They are:
The Forbes article cited above makes these further suggestions: “show her how your product will improve her life, don’t stereotype her, avoid chest-beating messages and be quick to solve her problems.”
Before discussing how the above factors can be woven into both your in-home presentations and online marketing, here are a few things NOT to do.
1. Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing Roof Shingles to Women
Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys and CEO of Female Factor Consulting, cautions companies to avoid the following pitfalls when marketing to women:
- Avoid using stereotypical pink products, literature, etc. to appeal to women.
- Don’t ignore the woman. Actively involve her in the sales discussion; don’t keep deferring to her husband or male counterpart.
- Don’t be condescending or talk down to her. Studies show that 33 percent of women research products and services online before buying offline. While they won’t know as much about roofing as you do, chances are they’ve done their homework. Don’t assume they won’t understand.
2. How to Sell Roofing Shingles to Women in their Home
Once you obtain a lead, the next logical step is an in-home visit with your prospect(s). This first face-to-face interaction is your best opportunity to start building that relationship that’s so essential to your female homeowner. Remember the old adage is true: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
- Be punctual. Arriving late to an appointment is a red flag for your prospect. She might feel that you won’t respect her time in other ways or that you can’t be trusted to complete what you promise when promised. If you are late, politely apologize and don’t make excuses. Move on.
- Look professional. Make sure that you AND your vehicle are clean and professional-looking. While wearing a suit and tie isn’t necessary and would limit your ability to climb up on the roof to inspect it, a company-branded polo or collared work shirt presents an appropriate image.
- Be friendly and courteous, with open gestures and a sincere smile.
- Ask open-ended questions in order to find out exactly what her needs, concerns and reasons are for getting a new roof.
- Take notes. It indicates that you’re interested in what she has to say.
- Maintain proper eye contact, listen attentively and ask questions to clarify, to show that you’ve been paying attention and want to understand but don’t ask questions that are too personal or probing. Doing so will make her feel uneasy which can lead to distrust.
- Be generous in sharing your knowledge. While you don’t want to lecture or come off as a know-it-all, anticipating questions and having product literature, a list of online resources and other materials to help your prospect understand the various options, features and benefits of each will be appreciated and will also help to position you as a trusted advisor.
IKO recently updated its homeowner brochures to put greater emphasis on color options by showing larger swatches and suggesting how to pair color blends with exterior elements. The new literature is specifically designed to appeal to women who typically guide the shingle buying process and base the final decision on color selection.
As Paco Underhill mentioned above, “control” is important to the female homeowner. She does not like “default settings”; she finds comfort in knowing that there are several options and alternatives, whether or not she avails herself of them.
- Bring samples of the various color blends. IKO’s own market research reveals that one of the biggest factors and hardest decisions to make is choosing the right color and, secondarily, style of asphalt roofing shingle.
- Demonstrate the free RoofViewerTM Encourage her to upload a photo of her actual home so that she can “try on” different colors and styles, as well as mix’n’match them to her home’s other exterior elements.
IKO’s interactive RoofViewer app makes it fun and easy to pick the right shingle color.
- Create a shopping experience. Women tend to view shopping as entertainment, which you can provide through these samples and the app. If you’re dealing with millennial women, this is even more important because 70 percent of them view purchase decision-making as a fun experience. If you can create a fun sales process, you’ll engage them. Invest in your business by learning how to sell on color.
3. How to Sell Roofing Shingles to Moms in Particular
Underhill’s final suggestions of “safety” and “considerateness” go hand in hand. If you’re marketing to moms, your female customers may be at home with small children when you’re roofing. To make them comfortable with you and your crew and to develop their trust:
- Arrive on time.
- Do what you say you will.
- Keep the jobsite clean while you work and be sure to clean it up at the end of the day.
Mothers do not want to worry about their little ones stepping on roofing nails and other homeowners may have similar concerns about their pets. Allay their fears by discussing upfront how you intend to keep everyone safe as well as protect the property from potential damage such as falling shingles during their removal.
Women will appreciate knowing that you care enough to cover their shrubbery, flower beds and other landscaping features. These principles are important for every job, of course, but may they may be critical in the eyes of your female customers.
4. How to Sell Roof Shingles to Women on Social Media
Marketing to women online is easier than ever before with social media. According to BrandWatch:
- Women use social media to support brands and find promotions more often than men do.
- They also generally need more time to make their purchase decisions, and social media is a good way to remind them about your services while you wait for them to decide.
Also, according to research from Nielsen, Black and Hispanic women are more likely than their non‐Hispanic white counterparts to use social media sites. If you’re targeting either group, you may gain more benefits from investing in social media.
Overall, using social media is a smart strategy to connect with women. How do you do it?
- Pick the right platforms. Women are more active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram than men. Facebook has the most users, so it makes sense to begin your marketing efforts there but it’s important to note that 70 percent of Pinterest users are female.
Pinterest and Instagram cater heavily to image and video content, both of which work well for the roofer. You can share images of new roofs and repair jobs to inspire women to think about what colors and styles would look best for their roof and get them excited about their purchase. You could also use it to educate them, demonstrating your roofing knowledge and showing them how to identify damage to their roof.
- Consider hiring a professional photographer to take before and after shots. They can help you gain more attention on social media.
- Expand your social media postings beyond images and videos. Any kind of valuable content is likely to be appreciated and widely shared.
5. How to Use Segmentation to Sell Roofing to Women
As a general demographic, women comprise a vast group. While it can be a challenge, the more you can segment your potential customers into groups, the more effectively you can guide your marketing efforts and the better the results will be. Consider segmenting by:
- Home type.
Roofing needs and other variables.
For example, a woman may wish to find a high-end option that matches her estate home’s architectural features. Present her IKO’s premium shingles, whether online on in‐person. If marketing to moms, you may need to focus more on the practical aspects such as the roofing shingles’ performance or their energy-efficient properties.
According to this article:
- Nearly 50 percent of women say they want more “green” choices.
- 37 percent are more likely to pay attention to brands that are committed to environmental causes.
IKO has shingles to fulfill all of these consumer desires; you just have to know what she wants.
You can target a new segment of the female market, or you can learn which segments you’re already appealing to, in order to reach out to more of them. To do this:
- Generate data about your past female customers.
- Find out what drew them to your company, and which areas they feel you could improve.
Getting your hands on this knowledge could be as simple as developing a short questionnaire and asking for feedback from them. Figures from this article indicate that 76 percent of women want to be part of a special or select panel. To further incentivize them, offer each participant a ticket in a raffle for a gift card or other prize.
6. Consider Hiring Female Salespeople
Anyone can learn how to reach out to female customers but recognize the following:
- Female salespeople may have an intuitive understanding and ability to connect effectively.
- More women are involved in the roofing industry than ever before. You may find it easier to hire knowledgeable saleswomen than you expect.
- If not, the extra technical training a woman might need may turn out to be an excellent investment.
Hubspot’s research has found that women salespeople make 11 percent more closing on average. Of course, don’t exclude male salespeople, as research from McKinsey has suggested that teams with both genders, and other types of diversity, produce more revenue than uniform teams.
All marketing involves trial and error, and marketing roofing to women is no exception. Experiment with your strategies before investing all of your marketing resources into a single one. When you get results, continue along the same lines to refine your strategy and get the most out of your marketing efforts.
IKO offers other advice about how to grow your roofing business, including how to deal with negative online reviews and how to prevent callbacks. Find even more great information on IKO’s blog.