On the weekend I was clearing out my office in preparation for our move to the USA. And in doing so I came across a manual/workbook that was published back in 1964 (before I even started school). It was the original Success Motivation Institute manual, complete with transcriptions produced by Paul J. Meyer.

And right at the very back of the book, written by author and sales trainer, Dottie Walters was a small tab titled:

The Seven Secrets of Selling To Women

Needless to say, with International Women’s Day today, along with a Facebook reminder of me hanging out with ‘Fearless Girl’ outside the NYSE, I wondered what nuggets I might share with men and women alike, through the lens of a by-gone era, and to discover just how much has shifted when it comes to male/female energy, communication and equality over the past six decades (if at all) #breakthebias

So let’s get going and let’s see if we agree with some of these excerpts of Dottie Walters, surrounding the 7 secrets written FOR men, BY a woman!

👩🎓 1. Remember to Include Her

<p”>“A sensational ad, put out by the producers of an expensive car, follows the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love poem: ‘How do I Love You… Let Me Count The Ways.” Not one word of the copy is wasted on cylinders or rpms. Instead, it tells woman about the delight she will find in it’s eye-pleasing, it’s luxury and spaciousness. The car, according to this ad writer, is incredibly quiet and has extraordinary handling ease. Not one word is said about stupid women drivers! And to cap the whole ad, the woman standing by the car is wearing a two-piece dress designed to match the automobile in colour and elegance.” 

My Thoughts: Whilst I’m not so sure about the flippant ‘stupid women drivers’ part, I do agree with the focus being on outcomes rather than features of the product and how first impressions and ‘selling you’, based on how you dress in business, always has been, and in my book, always will be, a pre-requisite for success.


👩🔧 2. Agree With Them

“Bruce Barton, the father of modern advertising, suggests we apply the Bible suggestion to ‘agree with our adversary, early’. Now actually this is a feminine trick. A wife says, ‘Yes, dear’ when you object to going out for the evening. Then she serves your favourite supper, gets your coat for you and you find yourself walking out the front door with her. The trick is to agree with your opponent at once, so that she will relax her guard.”

My Thoughts: Well, I can imagine every self respecting woman around the world reading this one 🙂. And whilst I think it is important to acknowledge someone’s opinions or beliefs, there is a big difference between ‘acknowledging and agreeing’ – and dare, I say it, trickery! I thing we have to be mindful of when any buyer shares a belief that we don’t agree with – and that is to respectfully push back, share a story to break the pattern and reframe that point. After all, we need to bring some insights into our conversations and losing that need to be ‘liked’ is the first step in doing so.

👩💻 3. Praise Them

“Praise can be used in a million ways. If you can think of the fussy woman as really being fastidious, you will be able to praise her for it. The indirect compliment is very successful. If a woman has unusually beautiful eyes, how about complimenting her ears? Look for the thing that others have passed up. A further use of the indirect compliment is to say something nice about a woman in her hearing to someone else. When you praise a woman she feels she has to live up to it; she doesn’t want to prove you’re wrong in your good estimate of her.”

<p”>My Thoughts: Women are smart, sassy and more vocal today than ever before and that also means our BS Meters are more finely calibrated. We are not needy humans eager to please for the sake of pleasing, so please don’t compliment a woman for the sake of complimenting her, especially on a part of her body that ‘others have passed up’. I also think the word ‘compliment’ is more appropriate than ‘praise’ and when you do compliment anybody, be genuine or don’t do it at all! 


👩🎨 4. Appreciate Her

“Actually, the very word, “appreciate” has a double meaning. Besides being grateful, it means “to raise in value”, as in real estate. This is exactly what appreciation can do to a woman – literally raise her in value! The opposite of appreciate is to depreciate, or lower in value. How many sales have been lost by the salesman who did not appreciate his customer as an individual and did not give her his appreciative attention”

My Thoughts: We all enjoy gratitude and appreciation – it is an intrinsic motivator and has so much more value than dangling material carrots – or relying on other people’s opinion of us. A little note here or phone call there – a pat on the back or a ‘thank you’, too. Appreciation is what holds people in their roles, partners in their relationships and buyers coming back for more – male or female! Let’s all appreciate one extra person today – it’s IWD so I’ll leave it up to you!!

🤹♀️ 5. Ask Them To Help You

“Not only do women love to help, but they especially enjoy it if they have the opportunity to make a sacrifice at the same time. Now, this isn’t a sick idea! Women somehow know that one of the great pleasures of this life is the privilege of self sacrifice”

My Thoughts: Sadly, in my opinion, this type of thinking still has a systemic and generational influence on many women today (and men!!) and one of the final bastions in reaching true equality. When you consider many senior leaders (male! and baby boomers!) have grown up in family environments based on this conditioning, it is only natural that there be some unintentional and unconscious bias retained in their DNA. Awareness is always the first step to changing this… #breakthebias

🦸♀️ 6. Just Love Her

“Now most men laugh and say they are perfectly willing to love shapely young chorus girls. But the kind of love that sells all women is of a different kind. A man who loves women, all kinds of women, is recognised at once by the women themselves.”

My Thoughts: On this point, shapely? young? chorus girls? Let’s throw a bit of #metoo in to that mix, shall we? I think the language of love in business ought to be more aligned with the language of respect in business. When respect is demonstrated people will forgive. If there is no respect (and it is an energy we can feel), then we won’t forgive or even forget! And women are the largest buying group in the world!!

👩🚀 7. Infuriate Her

The Greeks believed there were three angry female Furies that you can deliberately conjure up in every woman’s heart to produce action.

  1. ‘Tissyfony, The Avenger’ – A woman who feels she is abused will move mountains.
  2. Magaira, The Jealous’ – Remember jealousy likes to wear a halo called “moral indignation”.
  3. Alecto, The Unrelenting” When this is released, it’s not the size of the woman in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the woman – and she just won’t quit.”

My Thoughts: I believe we are seeing these three archetypes more and more as women begin to become bolder and braver and show their innate brilliance. ‘Tell her she can’t do something and she will’, or ‘let her help the underdog’. I am not sure these ‘furies’ should be classed under the banner of ‘anger’… but I do believe tenacity, equality and determination for women is more fitting – especially with our ‘no quit’ approach!


At the end of the day, women bring so much value, colour, difference and results to the table, yet still there is no parity when it comes to leadership, compensation, Board representation or Main Stage speaking events.

Bit by bit we are making inroads, especially where a woman can remain true to herself without being part of the boys club, or amping up her masculine energy just to be chosen or fit in. A woman in business can be bubbly, gregarious, emotive and maternal, yet still bring enormous commercial value, accountability, and ROI to her clients, team or the market. The residue from this bygone era is still visible though…and only time will enable that narrative to evolve.

On that note,

For all my male and female colleagues…

Stay Bold, Brave and Brilliant! 

Keynote Speaker - Bernadette McClelland - Sales Leadership and StorySelling Speaker Selling in the Connection Economy. A 5-step sales philosophy for franchises, associations and corporates


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