Women are darn good at sales. We're hardwired to be nurturers, connectors, and collaborators. We see the complexities in deals and dig deep to find the best solution for each client. We instinctively know how to build strong relationships and earn clients’ trust.
Yet, women in sales face barriers to our progress. Some barriers we create for ourselves. Others have formed over the years based on perceptions that we're too soft, that we can't manage work and family, that we don’t understand technology.
Why Women Are Better at Sales
We don’t have to think or act like men to become rainmakers. In fact, men often tell me, “The best salespeople I know are women.”
Why? We build relationships differently than men. We get to know clients, ask great questions, and trust our “gut,” whereas men tend to focus on completing tasks and demonstrating results.
Women in sales outperform men in both quota attainment and leadership effectiveness. Yet, men still receive higher commission rates than saleswomen, and women receive lower total variable and base pay.
The math doesn’t add up.
5 Tips for Women in Sales
Gender discrimination has become subtler. Now instead of being harassed or insulted, women are more likely to be overlooked. To eliminate gender barriers, sales leaders must identify and address hidden biases they have towards women.
Just as importantly, women must change perceptions, contribute to company goals, and accelerate our own success. Here’s how to start:
- Get your voice heard. Women tell me: “I’m at a meeting, and I offer a perfect solution to a problem. No one comments. Then 10 minutes later, a man says almost the same thing, and everyone loves the idea.” Don’t let that behavior stand.
- Ask for advice from people you respect—men or women. Listen carefully and adopt what makes sense based on your unique personality and selling style.
- Step out of your comfort zone to test new ways of working. Always ask why you’re selling the way you’re selling. What works well for one salesperson might not be the right style for you.
- Dress to impress. Even if most of your colleagues show up in jeans and flip-flops, smart saleswomen dress for success. You don’t have to wear a suit and heels every day, but consider show you can step it up.
- Make time for yourself and people you care about. Don’t let the corporate world gobble up all your energy and dull your creativity. To be successful in sales, you’ll need plenty of both.
Successful sales organizations in the 21st century will leverage the strengths of both men and women. Smart sales leaders want diverse teams who bring different skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table. And women are just plain naturals at selling. Now it's time to tap into our innate strengths, build confidence, and get out of our own way.
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. To learn more, visit www.NoMoreColdCalling.com. You can also follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.