Janice B Gordon Women in Sales

I would not go so far as to say that women are better sales professionals, but I do think the times have changed to favour the talents that more women naturally possess. This week, 8th March is International Women Day, I thought it a good opportunity to look at whether my assertion has any basis for belief.

Unprecedented revelations have come to light as many accusers line up against Harvey Weinstein, and others, the time it right to keep the pressure on all industries to demonstrate their equality measures and this includes sales.

With Mad Men portraying the historical advertising sales culture, sales have traditionally been male-dominated. The Fenwick & West LLP, 2014 study Gender Diversity in Silicon Valley 150 largest companies, found that women held only 11.7% of the senior sales executive roles. It can seem like a “boy’s clubs” in many industries, making it difficult for women to rise to the next level.

With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more critical time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress.

According to new research by Morgan McKinley, “financial services has the highest pay gap of all sectors at 29% while sales jobs have the highest pay gap of all disciplines, with males earning 23% more than their female counterparts.”

Three female, former Oracle employees, Rong Jewett, Sophy Wang and Xian Murray, are suing Oracle for “systematically paying them lower wage rates than Oracle pays to male employees performing substantially equal or similar work under similar working conditions.” Clearly, we have a problem!

Why You Must Encourage More Women into Sales!

In Fortune 500 companies, only 1 in 10 women hold P&L jobs; with 62% of women in staff jobs, whereas, 65% of men on executive committees hold line jobs. Line-of-business roles with P&L responsibility tend to be the primary paths to board service and the C-suite, however, most women leaders are in staff-related, non-line functions. A McKinsey study found that sales experience is a must for people seeking line job responsibility.

Getting sales experience and direct quota responsibility is a practical P&L and strategy implementation and execution education when sales performance metrics align with revenue and profits. If you want to grow your sales and revenue you would nurture your pipeline, well it is no different if you wanted to support more women into senior leadership, you need to create a pipeline to pave the way.

There is numerous research to support why diversity in business is good for business, however, is diversity in sales, good for sales?

6 Compelling Reasons Why You Need Female Sales professionals:

  1. Contrary to perceptions, women are good at sales, in fact, HubSpot reports that women are 5% more likely to close a deal than men. Furthermore, Professor Joel Le Bon of the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business Sales Excellence Institute performed an analysis of his 989 students’ sales performance across 7 years. The results showed 62.5% more female top performers than male and, top female performers outperformed the top male performers by 73.9%.
  2. The book the Female Brain, author Louann Brizendine states although “the average male brain is around 10% larger than the female brain, …the female brain has more ‘connections’ between the brain’s two hemispheres. Females also have more than 10% more brain cells than males in the area of the brain called the planum temporale, which has to do with perceiving and processing language.” Consequently, women are great communicators.
  3. According to Forbes, Falon Fatemi’s, “women have a genetic predisposition for improved listening capabilities. Heschl’s gyrus, the portion of the brain that is associated with listening, is more voluminous in women, as compared to men. 74% of customers are more likely to purchase an offering if they perceive that they are being listened to.” Women can listen with empathy that is superior to men. With females prone to let others finish their sentences and not interrupt, they are better able to paraphrase what has is said, so, building strong relationships and earning the clients’ trust.
  4. Research demonstrates that men and women have different communication styles in the workplace, indicated that women are better communicators than men. Women use from 10,000 to 20,000 words a day compared to 5,000 to 10,000 of men. Women speak an average speed of 250 words a minute, about 30% more than their average male counterparts. Women effectively build rapport, digging deeper and using empathy to demonstrate that they have their customers best interests at heart.
  5. Women also have around 10% more neurons devoted to emotions and memory. These ‘mirror neurons’ are better at observing emotions in others. Studies have shown women to excel at sensing what people are feeling well ahead of men. Having intuition to listen to their gut feelings allows women to pick-up on and remain sensitive to their buyers’ feelings and reassure them at appropriate points.
  6. Increasingly a diverse sales force is likely to reflect the make-up of the customer organisation. B2B sales have the added complexity of decision-making units influencing the purchasing process. The more representative, your team, is to connect and nurture strong relationships with a diverse customer base, the more secure your pipeline and revenues.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger – It Is Just Science!

As listening is a fundamental sales skill, women might just be the better sales professionals. Effectively listening to their customers, efficiently understanding customer pain points, and summarising the aspects of their offer that best resonate with each influencer in the buying process. As a result, companies with a sufficient female presence on their sales forces outperform less diverse companies.

Not only is there is a strong business rationale for ensuring gender diversity on your sales teams, but this is also a way of feeding your leadership pipeline.  Women bring different skills, natural talents and unique perspectives to your team, your business and your customer relationships.  Diversity in the workplace is increasingly seen as a way of making companies stronger in the diverse global economy.

For this reason, you cannot be complacent, and you must continue to Press for Progress not only on International Women’s Day but going forward.

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