Thank you everyone for reading and sharing my most recent blogs on women in sales! It’s a topic that I am very passionate about and I love being able to share the insights of my colleagues as well!
If you’re new to Sales Wars this is my third post in a series of blogs I am writing for QuotaFactory on women in sales. You can find the first two posts here and here. This weekend I was discussing my blogs with friends at a holiday party - some work in tech, others in engineering - and it ended up spurring a really open conversation about gender roles. As I began explaining the topics I’ve covered, the men presented theories as to why women might avoid a sales job. They made comments about sales careers that included phrases like “hyper-masculine environment” and offered suggestions such as “the unpredictable and varying payment structure would probably turn off women who seek stability.” They’re not wrong. Almost every article I’ve read echoes their theories. Admittedly it does take a particular personality type to be a great salesperson, but that should not be restricted to male personality traits.
To start a similar dialogue I posed this question to the team of ladies here at QuotaFactory:
What are the factors that you think hold women back in a sales role? What keeps women from wanting a sales role to begin with?
I am proud every day to work with women who have their eyes on breaking barriers and helping to dispel any stigmas or stereotypes when it comes to sales roles. I’ve included some of their responses below and I hope they are enlightening to our readers:
“I think that a big factor that holds women back in sales is the stigma associated with this particular career path. This goes both ways. Women recognize that they don't always get treated or spoken to with the same integrity as a man, over the phone and in the office. However, with that being said, women may choose to go into sales for this very reason in order to challenge the stereotype. I have been surprised in my last 3 years in sales that it doesn't matter so much if you're a woman, but rather how you take control of the sale and the amount of confidence that you display in your pitch and in your ability and talent. I think that all women have the “gift of gab” and that this gift can provide an advantage to someone who must identify their company's pain in a more compelling, understanding and less sales-y way. However, there are still some times when I wonder, due to being a women, if I am not being taken seriously. And if not, how can I change that?”
“I think that the two major factors holding women back in sales are that 1.) it is a male dominated field, and 2.) that women are afraid they will not be treated equally. However, I think this will change as women continue to join and conquer the sales landscape.”
“Although I don't care for the stereotype that all sales people are overly aggressive, it still exists and it is it’s existence that I believe is what keeps women from wanting to pursue a career in sales. There is a fine line between aggression and confidence and I think that this gray area can hold a lot of women back within a sales role. Not being pushy when there is room to be or being "too nice" can cause women to rob themselves of opportunities that were there and they failed to close. I think that what keeps women from wanting a sales role the most is the stigma that they must be super pushy in order to make a sale. I know that I personally don't like to feel as though I am forcing someone to make decisions that they aren't ready to make or do something that they do not want to do. So, the concept that using aggression as the only way to close the next step in a sales cycle was always something I did not feel comfortable with.”
“In general, women in sales are not taken as seriously as men. However, confidence is the key to overcoming this generality. Do your homework, know your stuff, get comfortable, and once you show that you know what you are doing you WILL be taken seriously. There is some added pressure because we as women do need to make an even greater first impression (and we need to do it quickly), but as long as you are focused and motivated, you can easily turn the "challenge" of being a woman in sales to a huge advantage. To be in sales, it’s important to have thick skin because dealing with rejection is a very real part of the job. You also need to be competitive, and you always need to be extremely motivated and goal-driven, even when things get rough. Men are hunters by nature, so I think that this is why there are more men in sales. That being said, when a saleswomen is intelligent, confident, and driven, she can be extremely successful in this field.”
What about our other women in sales? What are your thoughts on the matter? We'd love to get this conversation going! Please comment below with your thoughts on why women may be hesitant to begin a career in sales and some potential factors that could hold women back. We'd love to hear from you!