We know from ongoing research that a diverse sales team with a higher mix of women is good for business. And the reasons couldn’t be more evident.

This fact should catch anyone’s attention as a prime motivator: Revenue is higher.
Companies with higher levels of gender diversity in their sales force significantly outperformed on their revenue goals over those sales teams who did not have high numbers of women among their ranks. Not only is revenue higher with a gender-diverse sales force, but deal profitability is higher too. According to the CEB Global (now Gartner) report “Gaining the Talent Advantage: The Case for Gender Diversity in Sales,” some 62% of companies who had 45% or more women in their sales ranks drove higher-than-average levels of profitable revenue.

Gender diversity also stabilizes your workforce. The same CEB Global report revealed that women typically remain in their roles for a year or more longer than their male counterparts. This leads to a reduction in attrition costs. Perhaps more importantly, stability in your sales ranks also impacts the overall customer experience. Nothing is more frustrating to prospects or customers than having to deal with a constant shift in reps who are assigned to support them.

Diversity drives a better customer experience. Your customers are diverse and that, in and of itself, is a good reason to have salespeople who can connect and nurture strong relationships with multiple customer types. Imagine what would happen if everyone in your sales organization was a clone of everyone else. That would make it difficult to find common ground with customers and prospects.

Given all of these reasons for gender diversity, why is it that more companies aren’t actively recruiting women for sales roles? And why aren’t more women proactively considering sales as a career option?

It could come down to pay. CEB Global found that the sales function has the second largest gender equity gap of all corporate functions after supply chain. It also reported that currently, despite achieving equal or even higher quota attainment in some cases than their male counterparts, women remain underrepresented in all levels of the sales organization. This means changing the dynamic — and the pay.

Along with making recruiting women into sales roles a much higher business priority, your messaging needs to change. As a profession, sales still has an image problem. Somewhere buried deep in the collective psyche is the bias that anyone who sells is nothing more than a sleazy snake oil salesman out to take your money. Without realizing it, many companies are inadvertently reinforcing this bias in the way that they talk about the sales roles at their company.

As you put those job descriptions together, drop the warrior language when describing the sales role. Words like aggressive, crusher, killer, or hunter create an impression that selling is a cutthroat business. The aggressive, hunter/kill mentality often seen (and rewarded) in many sales organizations holds no appeal for many women.

If women’s perception is that selling is about hounding people until they buy something, it is no wonder that sales hasn’t held much career appeal for women. Women often want to work in collaborative, team environments where the focus is on serving customers — not crushing quotas. That doesn’t mean that women don’t crush their quotas. They absolutely do and often at higher rates than the men, according to the CEB Global report. But the idea of being a quota crusher sounds like a negative, as if the only thing that matters in sales is hitting your number no matter the cost.

When we put all of these factors in perspective, the benefit is clear: More women in sales is good for business! The question is what will companies do to better balance the scales? And, ladies, our sales profession needs you, too. Take a closer look at the changes happening and help drive the future of sales.

 

Companies with higher levels of gender diversity in their sales force significantly outperformed on their revenue goals over those sales teams who did not have high numbers of women among their ranks.”

Barbara Giamanco | CEO, Social Centered Selling
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Account Executive, Salesforce
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President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.
 
 
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