Sales used to be an industry dominated by men. Why do you think we still default to “salesman” rather than “salesperson”?
However, there are more women in the job market today than ever before. In fact, women make up about 45% of the workforce in the United States. And sales is no different; as the number of women in the workplace rises, so does the number of women in sales.
Men vs. Women in Sales
Like men, women can be excellent at sales. And like men, some women struggle at it. The qualities of a top salesperson are the same. Everyone needs confidence. And everyone needs a process for collecting leads, following up, and closing sales. But a person’s level of confidence and the quality of their sales system depend much more on the individual than on their gender.
That being said, there are parts of sales where women generally have an advantage. For example, many women get better results in prospecting. Women listen differently than men. And whereas men may listen to see how their solution fits your problem, women hear the emotional undertones of the conversation. They can often figure out a customer’s real problem and offer the best next step. Men, however, often push people to the next step without considering what the correct next step should be.
That also means men generally close more sales, more quickly. They’re less concerned with the emotional implications, not overthinking each step, so they negotiate to close and then move on.
Yet, these are just stereotyped advantages. While some women hold an advantage in face-to-face or phone prospecting and men take the advantage in negotiation, individual work ethic is much more important.
The Most Successful Women in Sales
Some of the most outstanding salespeople I know are women. And, though the sales industry is often perceived as a “man’s world”, some of our most groundbreaking leaders have been women. From Mary Musgrave, who used fur trading posts to establish peace with the Europeans during the 1700s, to Estee Lauder, who introduced the idea of incentivizing purchases, to Oprah Winfrey, who is often called “the most powerful woman in the world”, women have been revolutionizing sales for hundreds of years.
Those women were successful in their own right. They didn’t do the same thing as everyone else in their time. They didn’t learn how to succeed in sales by copying the people before them. Instead, they listened to others and found the approach that worked best for the surrounding needs. They didn’t let gender stand in the way of using their strengths to succeed.
Sales Tips for Women
People who make it in sales are disciplined and intentional. They have a plan for how to do business and who to work with, and they make it all better with their personal strengths. So, if you’re wondering how to succeed in sales, here are three tips for moving in the right direction.
1. Have a System
The single biggest differentiator in your performance is how you move prospects through your pipeline. Man or woman, you need a way to keep track of people, no matter where they are in the sales process.
2. Capitalize on Your Own Talents
What are your talents as an individual? Leverage those to your advantage in the sales process. Whether your strengths are gender-specific is irrelevant. It’s all about how you use your best qualities to move clients through your system. Focus on your own strengths.
3. Look for Leadership
It’s always helpful to work with and for strong leaders. It’s not as common as we’d hope for new salespeople to surpass the leaders who train them. Usually, you’ll find the best people in sales have a good leader… and good leaders have good salespeople.
There aren’t just good salesmen. There are great salespeople. And today, we’re glad that more of those people are women.