Lessons in negotiating within the female economy

Abbi Yeboah said women indeed have competitive advantages in some areas of business.

“We are naturally gifted with emotional intelligence and nurturing personalities that can sometimes be a one-up on our male counterparts,” she said. “But I also believe there are some areas of worth that we can learn from men, too, in order to do business better.”

Yeboah, founder and CEO of Pinkshoe Marketing and creator of Rutgers University’s first annual Women Do Business Differently conference, held last week, said she specifically was referring to negotiating within the female economy.

That economy is worth well over $27 trillion and nearly 90 percent of consumer spending, Lucy Sorrentini, founder and CEO of Impact Consulting, said.

“So, don’t give anything away for free,” she said. “Remember why you went into business in the first place.”

Women often volunteer enough in their communities, their children’s schools and with multiple charities, she added.

“But, we are in business to be in business where everything has a value,” Sorrentini said. “For example, my millennial social media employee said she was tired of individuals offering to buy her coffee in exchange for her knowledge. She even wrote a blog about it, likening it to making an appointment with your doctor or dentist and offering them a cup of coffee as payment.

“Before you do anything for free, you must think about what the market price is for what you are offering. If you decide to do the favor, what will be the return on investment of your time and talent? For example, is there someone they can introduce you to? Know your value and your product’s value and recognize that people are paying for it, even if it is not to you.”

Susan De Robertis, owner and CEO of SDR Consulting and Accounting, said it is time for women to interrupt their automatic “niceness.”

“My focus is on teaching women to be comfortable with money, because women don’t often value ourselves as much as we should,” she said. “Though we may have the knowledge, we often need to feel more comfortable in creating relationships to close a deal, and so, it can take a couple of go-arounds.

“But, take a look at the results you have produced in your business. Are you happy with them? If not, it is due to the actions you did or did not take. What we are thinking and feeling about ourselves and our money mindset is going to motivate us to take certain actions that will produce results in both our businesses and our relationships.”

Jasmine Cordero, managing director at Rutgers’ Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Newark, asked the women in the audience to think back on their last negotiation.

“Did you negotiate differently because of who was on the other side of the table?” she said. “If it was a woman, were you more positive you would get more of what you wanted because you believed you were in it together? If it was a man, did you bring your ‘A’ game, or did you back down?

“The major difference between men and women is confidence. Why? A lot of times it is because of society. But we have to stop being unapologetic. We have to look at our value and what we are bringing to the table. If you can sell somebody else’s product and have been great at that, why can’t you sell your own? Why are you undervaluing the quality of your product but not the quality of what someone else was making when you actually knew all of the issues with it?”

Cordero said statistics also matter.

“If you are selling to women, it is important to do your research,” she said. “How much are they making? Where are they, in what cities, and in what counties? What do they look and act like?

“It is imperative that you know your market.”

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