Do not fear failure

Women Aren’t Good at Getting Customers

Do not fear failure
Photo by Tomasz Stasiuk CC BY

by Andrew McDermott | Featured Contributor

It’s 2004. Rachel and I have decided to start our own business and my aunt was completely and totally against the idea of Rachel marketing to new customers.

“Women just aren’t good at getting customers.” after sitting me down.

“If you allow Rachel to do this, the men you sell to won’t respect you Andrew. It’ll make it harder for the both of you to find success in your business.”

I didn’t see that coming.

For years my aunt talked about opening her own restaurant. She never got around to it, choosing instead to believe that it simply wouldn’t work. Her dream died before it got off the ground.

Who says women aren’t good at getting customers?

Women do apparently, and it’s more common than you’d expect. I certainly wasn’t new to sexism. But I was totally unprepared for the fact that sexism against women would come from…well…women.

When I pointed to other women I knew who were doing well, the response I got was usually something along the lines of “They’re the lucky ones” or “they’ve got a man behind them”.

But is it true women aren’t as good at it?

And why would gender be the defining factor that decided whether a person was good at getting customers or not? Are men actually superior to women when it comes to business?

What we’ve found is actually the opposite. A 2011 study by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman found that women outscored men in all but one of the 16 competencies that top leaders exemplify.

The same kind of things women need to win customers.

Things like solving problems, driving for results, demonstrating technical or professional expertise, communicating powerfully and prolifically. Women outperformed men in every single category. Except one.

My aunt was wrong.

So what do women have that men don’t?

Women have two big advantages going for them. The interesting part about these is that for most women one of these advantages masquerades as a horrible downside.

  1. Women are trained (from birth), to develop relationships.
  2. Women over prepare because they know they’re expected to fail.

Women are trained (from birth), to develop relationships.

As a man I’ve been constantly bombarded with the message that it’s weak to show emotion. It’s weak to tell your buddies that you care about them and want to hang out. But women can do this freely, it’s what makes a woman’s ability to connect so powerful.

A woman can look at another person and see them for who they are. They can speak with empathy and honesty – building relationships quickly. That’s not the case for most men, so we end up with awkward encounters like this.

Women overprepare because they know they’re expected to fail.

3 of my 4 sisters are career women. One of them owns a general contracting company, another works for Zurich, and another works in a research lab.

And each one of them tells me about a few of their co-workers, bosses and clients they know who have this unspoken expectation.

“You’re here to look pretty and fill a seat. You’re unable to contribute or you can’t. “


At first glance this stings, it feels like you’re being rejected before you’ve even had an opportunity to try. Look closer and suddenly it’s an opportunity.


Hear me out. Women train themselves to be better, to do more, to go above and beyond what’s expected. They spend more time on personal development – they improve themselves and those around them. And as we’ve seen from the study, it’s working.

So how can women expose this stereotype as the lie it is?

By hearing and facing the expectations and beliefs people have about you.

  • Naysayers believe you won’t generate enough leads? Find new ways to generate more leads than you can possibly handle.
  • Do cynics believe nobody will buy your product? Talk to your target audience; figure out what they want, then sell it to them. Share your success with cynics every chance you get.
  • Are the prophets of doom telling you that you’ll eventually fail? Share your success whenever you can. Use it to build others up

Most importantly, master your craft. Find the customers who are willing and able to pay. Give them what they want, as often as they want it. Every target audience speaks a different language. Learn to speak your customer’s dialect fluently.

Wait a minute, some women really aren’t good at getting customers.

It’s true. Some women can’t market a product to save their life. Some men can’t either.

As an entrepreneur, you have two distinct advantages that, when used, give you a serious leg up on the rest of your competition. Use these gifts, do the work and you’re unstoppable.

Because women are better at getting customers.

The training, the social conditioning, all of the uphill battles you’ve fought. These struggles give you power. Because no matter what anyone else says, my aunt was wrong.

Have you ever been told outright that you’re not good enough? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear your story.


Andrew @ HooktoWin.comAndrew McDermott is the co-author of Hook:Why Websites Fail to Make Money and co-founder of His Free 5 day mini course shows entrepreneurs how to fix website failure and attract customers automatically.

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5 Replies to “Women Aren’t Good at Getting Customers”

  1. Karima Mariama-Arthur

    Thank you for writing this article, Andrew.

    This topic has come up quite frequently with women business owners. It’s an unfamiliar spin on a oh-so-familiar topic. I think it encourages women to dig deeper and harness the confidence that we were born with. I love the way you made your final point–an unexpected ending based on the title.

    Good stuff!

  2. Andrew McDermott[ Post Author ]

    You’re welcome James! 😀

    I agree with you. Those that refuse to try are gonna be bad at getting customers.

    Like you said, Life position is really important; I’d add mindset to that. If you’ve got the right beliefs you can make it – even if your life position isn’t ideal.

    Great points!

  3. James @ Place4Papers

    That was a surprising gender stereotype (thanks for breaking it, by the way). I’d paraphrase this claim, stating that people who do not even try to achieve success are bad at getting customers, no matter if they’re men or women. A life position is much more important than gender or ethnicity or family background, imho

  4. AndrewMcDermott

    Thanks Judy! That’s nice of you to say.

    Those two points resonate with me too. Growing up I noticed that women were more free to build relationships and express their emotions.

    Boys are usually told to “suck it up” and “get over it” more often. This puts us way behind, and takes a long time to recover from.

    I’m always amazed when I see women perpetuating sexism. My aunt knew what it felt like and still chose to dish it out.

    Keep proving your naysayers wrong. 🙂

  5. Judy Yaron PhD

    How refreshing and encouraging, Andrew! Your Rachel is a lucky lady to have such support. Two points resonated in particular: 1) that women devote more time in self-development and relationships building and 2) master your craft – I believe that whatever you do – you need to become a master of your trade.

    Sadly, I have experienced time and again the doubts people have had in my abilities (even my mother like your aunty). Being the youngest also plays a part. I love my older brothers dearly, and appreciate their ongoing love and concern, but at what age do you stop being their “baby sister …” Thank you, HUGS <3

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