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X-Ray Emotions – How Women Can Read a Room in a B2B Sale

By June 14, 2011December 21st, 2015No Comments

Female doctor examining an x-ray image

Today’s post is by Holly Buchanan, author of The Soccer Mom Myth.

Tom and Jean are in a meeting pitching their company. Tom is doing the presentation. Jean is surveying their prospective clients during the presentation. At the end of the meeting Tom asked Jean how it went. He thought it was very well received. Jean, however, picked up clues that said otherwise.

“I think we’ve got a problem,” Jean said.

Tom was totally surprised: “What do you mean?”

“Well, I saw some negative reactions,” she explained. “I don’t think they’re completely on board. I think we should set a follow-up meeting with the two members showing the most push-back.”

Sure enough, Jean was right on. Those members did indeed have concerns. Left un-addressed, it could have torpedoed the proposal.

Was it simply that Tom was so engrossed in giving the presentation he wasn’t paying attention to the room? Or did Jean pick up on something Tom could not see?

It may have been a combination of both.

There are natural advantages women bring to the B2B sales process including their ability to read a room and understand what’s going on inside a buyer’s head.   Women are especially good at reading emotions and assessing a buyer’s fear.

Women’s Super Powers

Most likely Jean was tapping into three super powers almost all women possess:

  1. Reading facial expressions
  2. Picking up on body language
  3. Empathy/Understanding fear

These three super powers all combine to make women experts at reading the room.

Reading facial expressions

Research has shown that women are better at reading facial expressions and emotion.    Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that females, because of their role as ‘primary caretakers’, are effectively wired differently to detect distress in young infants.  Women excel at detecting distress.  Men, while good at picking up signs of anger (especially in other males), sometimes miss more subtle facial expressions.

Many a man has come home, asked his wife how she’s doing and gotten a brisk, “fine.”  Then a few minutes later he finds his wife is upset with him because it was clear from her facial expression and tone that she was not fine and he should have asked more follow up questions in order to understand she actually wasn’t fine at all.   (Yes guys, I feel your pain.)

Everyone transmits emotions through their face.  Women are just especially adept at receiving and translating what they see.  When you’re presenting to a team, women can pick up clues as to who is with you and who isn’t. Something as subtle as flared nostrils, scrunched eyebrows or lips stretched thin can convey concern, skepticism or even anger.

Ability to read body language

During your business presentation, one of the key decision makers crosses his arms across his chest.  The women on your team pick up on this right away.  It’s a sign of being closed off.  Women have fine tuned radars when it comes to reading body language.   Intuitively an alarm goes off in her head – what was said that made him close himself off like that?

Further into the presentation, a woman who had been nodding in the beginning has stopped nodding.  Again, the women on your team intuitively pick up on her lack of engagement as a red flag.

Just for the record, when women nod, they are not necessarily agreeing with you.  They are simply engaging with you and encouraging you to go on.   But if a woman starts out nodding, then stops, that’s a big warning sign.

Empathy/Understanding fear

What if you had the ability to read minds and could find out what your prospective clients biggest concerns were?   You could determine the one thing that is keeping them from buying from you.

While women can’t read minds, they are excellent at empathy, or understanding another person’s emotions.   Women are able to put themselves into that person’s position and look at the project from that person’s point of view.

Women also tend to be more risk aware.  Their brains are actually hardwired to plan ahead, think through what might go wrong, and find ways to prevent problems.  I call it the “What If Syndrome.”   “What if this project isn’t completed on time?”  “What if there are problems after implementation?” “What if I sign off on buying this whole new system and it doesn’t work?  Will I lose my job?”

Women and B2B buyers share the “What If Syndrome.”  This allows women on your team to help ferret out concerns and objections so you can address them and close more sales.

Bottom line:  Include women on your B2B sales team.  Tap into their super powers and ability to read a room.   You could gain valuable information and insight that could give you a real competitive edge.

Holly Buchanan is the co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth – Today’s Female Consumer, Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys. Holly’s specialty is marketing to women online. You can reach Holly at holly (at)