There is still much to be done for women to achieve equality but there are choices we can control. The world needs more female engineers, data scientists and film directors but it also needs more female sellers and sales leaders.
As a career, sales offers variety and flexibility. If you like problem solving and enjoy competition then there is no better role to test and challenge yourself. Successful sellers are not impacted by the gender pay gap.
Sales has long been a male dominated profession but women can and do reach the top.
The numbers prove it, women definitely have the edge.
Diversity has a real impact on revenue
Selling has changed, a seller’s focus must be on their customer not their products. Sellers must understand their customer and their desired outcomes. No two customers are the same and sales teams need to reflect that diversity. More inclusive workforces better understand the customer and outperform the competition. They have a much greater chance of thinking about things from the customers’ perspective. Sales organisations that embrace diversity have a more solid footing in the market and win more vs. the competition.
As we saw in our recent Customer Revenue Optimization Benchmark Study 2019, customers are increasingly considering diversity when they are making buying decisions. A good or great diversity record correlates positively to all sales performance indicators. As an example, average sales cycle is dramatically shortened for companies with a good or great track record on diversity.
The new world of selling plays to female strengths
In today’s world of selling buyers are far more powerful and better educated. They are not looking to be “sold to”, they are looking for someone to bring expertize and insight, someone who will collaborate with them over the long term to deliver their business outcomes.
The headlines tell us that B2B sales jobs are in decline; they are under threat from AI and will be replaced by technology. However this is far from the full story, there is a profile of seller that is expected to grow in number over the next decade: sellers who both create and communicate value as part of the sale.
In the B2B Enterprise space, sellers who understand their customers are thriving. Sellers who invest in building long term customer relationships are thriving. Sellers who harness the energy and intelligence of the full revenue team to serve their customers are thriving.
This is where women have the edge. The old sales stereotypes don’t apply to us; one less barrier to overcome. Our traditional soft skills of empathetic listening, communication, decision-making; the soft skills involved in selling to real people are all growing in importance to the new, value-led businesses of today.
These complement the hard skills also needed in selling; consistent deal qualification, rigorous account planning, excellent stakeholder and relationship management.
The level of sales success is down to how hard you work to improve sales skills.
Peers are the real influencers and our peers are rising
We are seeing more women executives, more women senior leaders and more women buyers. From our benchmark, the greatest trust lies in the relationships between peers in the same industry. Expertise, word‐of‐mouth, and reputation are still highly valued. Customers
still look to human relationships, connections, and domain experience to form their opinions.
The numbers don’t lie
There is no greater way of eliminating bias than judging by the numbers.
In our recent CRO Benchmark Study the data suggests several material areas of focus in order to reduce sales cycle times and increase velocity. There is a direct correlation between improvement in these areas and improved revenue optimization.
The biggest impact is when the marketing team understands the customer but the gender of the seller is a key success factor. Sales cycle times are reduced by 7% when the seller is a woman.
The data also suggests the most effective way to boost win rate is by improving sales qualification, avoiding wasted time on bad leads and the wrong opportunities. Many of the factors that impact win rate are self-explanatory but the fact that it is 10% higher when the seller is female should make both women and companies sit up and take notice.
Women sellers, not female sales “men” …
Female sellers have every opportunity to outperform men. From a company perspective having women on the sales team boosts performance and profitability. Customers will have a partner to help them deliver their desired outcomes. There are not enough women in sales roles but I am lucky to work with many of the most successful female sellers and leaders globally. The most effective I have seen are “themselves”. Trying to make yourself a sales “man” is inauthentic, most women don’t wear it well and as a result women get frustrated, aren’t successful and leave the business. For women to get ahead you have to work in a culture where you make men your partner and vice versa.