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The Growing Influence of Women in B2B Buying

Simple demographics show a rise in authority

Women at Work
Women now account for 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.[i] In 1969, they made up 33 percent of the workforce.[ii] Women have become important breadwinners in the U.S. and now account for 62 percent of college associates’s degrees, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of all master’s degrees, 50 percent of all professional degrees and a little less than 50 percent of all Ph.D.s.[iii] With these kinds of numbers, expect more women to be coming into leadership and decision-influencing roles.

According to Illuminate Ventures, "organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher ROE and 34% better total return to shareholders versus their peers – and research shows gender diversity to be particularly valuable where innovation is key."

Although jobs that have been associated with the female gender such as nursing are still dominated by women, they are making serious inroads into the business world.  To support this progress for women, businesses are changing their cultures and general behavior.  Women are also increasing their decision-making influence inside organizations in which they work.

Growing Influence in B2B Decisions
Their progress is not just in larger organizations but also with small organizations.  Small businesses are popping up due to the empowerment of women.  Many women are starting their own companies as they are running more than 10 million businesses in the U.S. alone that account for $1.8 trillion of revenue.[iv]

Although women are still earning a little less than a man for the same job and they haven’t had the broad-based success that men have in business, the expectations women have in the workplace have changed.  Providers should be keenly aware of the influence women are having in the workplace and remember that women purchase 80 percent of all consumer goods.[v] By virtue of that alone, they are the most experienced at researching what they buy.

Since their hard-fought gains in the business world are relatively recent in their acquisition, they might be less inclined to take a swashbuckling view about solution investments that have career implications.  For sure, many women are very busy juggling lots of roles.  They are more heavily involved in household responsibilities than men and many of them are single parents.  In short, they just have less room for error.

Regardless of whether they are executives involved in the decision or merely advocates, women can still be staff members that can impact a purchase.

The B2B Provider’s Best Marketing Move
Make sure your own team embraces diversity to create visuals and case studies reflecting its female buyers.  Too many times I have seen web sites and collateral that makes it appear that if you’re not a man in a business suit, we're not talking to you.  Women professionals expect the same thing any buyer would want and that is to stay fact-based and help them use their trusted professional relationships and influencers to optimize their decision-making.


[i] The Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation 2009

[ii] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

[iii] National Center for Education Statistics, “Digest of Education Statistics 2007” (2007), Table 177

[iv] Center for Women’s Business Research, “Key Facts about Women-Owned Businesses” (2009), available          at http://www.womensbusinessresearchcenter.org/research/keyfacts.

[v] Marti Barletta, Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest MarketSegment, 2nd edition (Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2006).

More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at john@johnwryan.com or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps

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