Are there differences in selling to women vs. men in the B2B sales process?

That was the question we set out to discover.

My husband and I are avid remodelers, which means I’ve spent a lot (A LOT) of time at Home Depot and Lowe’s over the last 15 years. I remember clearly, during those Saturday afternoons walking up and down aisles looking for just the right tile, how much I preferred shopping at Lowe’s to Home Depot.

My husband thought I was crazy – they were essentially the same store to him! But I insisted they weren’t. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew I found the experience at Lowe’s more enjoyable. Turns out, I wasn’t crazy.

In the early 2000s, Lowe’s made a concerted effort to attract more female shoppers with wider aisles, brighter lighting, more big-ticket items on lower shelves, cleaner bathrooms, and more how-to clinics. Why? Because research shows that women make 80% of all home improvement decisions.

“But that’s the B2C space,” you might be thinking. “In B2B sales, isn’t it all the same? Buyers make decisions the same way – the price, the functionality, the value they get back, and the recommendations from their peers.”

If that’s the mentality you’ve adopted as a salesperson, it might be time to rethink.

In partnership with leading sales linguist Steve W. Martin, ZoomInfo surveyed 350+ B2B buyers, and we put this question to the test: Are there differences selling B2B solutions to women and men?

In fact, there are some significant differences.

Both Men and Women Prefer Email to Cold Calls

Here’s a finding that might affect your sales outreach: Both men and women prefer email to cold calls, but men are 50% more likely than women to pick up your cold call.

Who prefers a phone call?

  • 36% of men
  • 23% of women

Who prefers an email?

  • 63% of women
  • 38% of men

Who prefers a LinkedIn message?

  • 21% of men
  • 12% of women

A small percentage (5% of men, 2% of women) prefer an old-fashioned letter.

Graph showing statistics of selling to women vs. men. Same as written.

Pro Tip: Having a direct phone number and email address for your prospect is really, really important; without this information, you’re significantly less likely to catch the buyer’s attention. And despite the “cold-calling is dead” debate, the combined effect of a cold-call and email remains the most effective outreach method.

Download our full study to see:

  • who cares about pricing discounts
  • who’s more politically oriented
  • who’s more open to new upstart vendors
  • and more!

Note: We did this study before our acquisition and ZoomInfo re-brand.

Final Thoughts on Gender Differences in B2B Sales

Of course gender is certainly not the only factor – or even the biggest factor – at play for effective sales personalization. This research isn’t meant to characterize all men and women.

However, as the differences show – and personal experience probably supports – men and women buyers are perceived in different ways due to their gender. Stereotypes exist. We think it’s important to question personal assumptions: they’re often wrong, and it costs money when they are.

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About the author

Katie Bullard

Katie Bullard was the president and chief growth officer of DiscoverOrg, which acquired ZoomInfo in 2019.

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B2B marketing, growth, sales and more.

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