Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Review: The X and Y of Buy

As a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson publishers, I recently read "The X and Y of Buy," by Elizabeth Pace. I thought that this book would be beneficial to my work, especially with all of the retail fixture design that I do. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that men and women are different in the way they are wired. Understanding these differences will only make you better at designing for and/or selling to both sexes.

The first part of the book goes through the "hardwired" differences between Men and Women, such as their brain structure, and how Men's and Women's left and right hemispheres work together in completely different ways. Pace likens the way men's brains work to a file cabinet, compartmentalized and focused, with the ability to "turn off" and be 70% less active when at rest. The woman's brain, on the other hand, is likened to all of those files spread out on a large table: everything touches everything else, and the brain is only 10% less active when at rest. I could definitely relate to this myself, as I know my mind keeps racing with to-do's even when I'm trying to go to sleep. (I find it helps a lot to keep a note pad by my bed to jot things down, allowing me to forget about them for the night and finally rest!)

These hardwired differences translate into the completely different ways that men and women shop. Pace does a great job throughout the book, illustrating (through word, graphics, and tables) our biological differences, how they affect the way we shop, and giving examples of how a salesperson might interact with a male vs female customer.

The second part of the book is divided up to specifically address "the X of Buy" and "the Y of Buy," giving examples of how to work with and sell to men and women individually, which Pace calls "GenderCycle Selling" (TM). Here she takes you through scenarios for both men and women, both in the business-to-business sales and the retail or direct-to-customer sales situations. With tips on how to engage in and close off a conversation, and key words to use throughout the sale, Pace leaves nothing out of the process.

While I myself am not a sales person by title, I do find sales tips and techniques to be extremely useful in the design profession. Whether I am selling my services to a potential new client, or selling a design concept to a full board room of decision makers, sales is a part of my job. In addition to being armed with good sales techniques, knowing my customer (or end user of a product) is extremely important to the success of a design. This book has given me more insight into a very basic yet very influential part of my end users' identities, their gender, which gives me a head start right from the beginning. I would recommend this book to anyone who either works in sales, or simply would like to improve their understanding of and communication with both men and women.

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