When we think about stereotypical sales roles, there is an expectation that corporate salespeople are mainly men.
The “Wolf of Wall Street” stereotype hasn’t done much to help with the connotations that we have of salespeople, either: pushy, sleazy, money- focused, as well as a love of shiny suits, and illegal substances.
However, the reality is that more women are being recruited, and becoming incredibly successful, in the world of corporate sales – because they make better salespeople.
It’s a big claim, and if you’re a man, it’s certainly not one that you’ll be happy to hear. But women are using all the tools in their arsenal to sell well, and they’re overcoming stereotypes by injecting what we used to call “the warm and fuzzies” and now refer to as “soft skills” into the sales process.
Just last year, Korn Ferry created a report that showed women “outperforming men in 11 of 12 key emotional competencies”, and said that women were often underrated for the value that they bring to a leadership role. They found that women were outperforming men in categories such as conflict management, empathy, and achievement orientation, but scored lower in one category – emotional self-control.
It is these qualities that make women natural born salespeople. The sales process itself is simple enough: build relationships, nurture them, and consistently put the right offer in front of the right decision makers.
We can all agree that the most important skill needed to make consistent sales is the ability to build, grow, maintain, and leverage our networks. In other words, relationship building.
Society teaches women at an early age that they need to nurture others, and this skill lends itself well when it comes to the workplace. Women have a tendency to remember important details, and put stock into remembering personal dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays. They focus on building others up, and put huge value on emotional intelligence.
When it comes to making sales, it is this focus on building solid relationships and valuing the other person that lends itself to creating sustainable long-term business relationships.
Over the last three years, I’ve worked with women and men across the world to set up and scale their own businesses. While male clients have typically been more goal-oriented and focused on “bringing home the bacon”, they lack the desire to build solid one-to-one relationships, and see every sale in a singular way, rather than looking at the long-term client value.
This singular focus means that male salespeople can be more transactional in terms of approach, and can often lose longer-term revenue by treating each sale as a one-off. Their female counterparts may be slower to start generating revenue, but their ability to build and maintain longer-term relationships increases average transaction values, as well as the lifetime value of a customer.
So, how can we all use these skills to our advantage?
Simply, learn the skills of your sales team in order to help you maximise your revenue. If you have a salesperson who is great at nurturing relationships but isn’t necessarily a “hunter”, then putting them into an account management role where they can build stronger ties with the client and increase the average transaction value is going to help them perform better – and increase your bottom line.
A more traditional type of salesperson, with a lot of resilience and perseverance, may be better suited to new business development, cold calling, and opening new doors.
The key thing to remember is that all salespeople have a role to play in the workplace, but we need to be assessing skills, and assigning roles correctly, to maximise profit margins.