Women in sales part-1: Their Challenges and the ways they can overcome them
7 minutes read
Try to form a mental image of the following people,
A door-to-door salesman
A car salesman
A pushy closer
I’m going to venture a guess here. Most of you have had a mental image of a man for all those three, correct? This is quite natural as sales has historically been perceived as a male-dominated industry.
“The women make up only 29% of sales reps and just 26% of sales managers.”
And yet they are proven to outperform their male colleagues. This lack of representation of women in sales can be attributed to many things, such as,
Poor Recruitment Methods
Gender wage gap etc
Nevertheless, organizations around the world have now realized the greater benefits of having more women in sales. And they are consciously moving towards establishing more gender-diverse sales teams.
Challenges that women face in sales
One of the largest challenges that women face in sales is overcoming bias and stereotypes. Many think of sales as the industry where men excel because of the aggressive nature associated with it.
Gender bias experienced by women in sales, combined with the fact that women make up less than a third of sales reps, results in women feeling as though they don’t have a community. They constantly feel undervalued and underrepresented.
Benefits of having women in sales
Despite the challenges that women face in sales, studies show that they actually outperform men in various aspects of sales.
Steps to attract and retain women in sales
Now let’s look at various measures that organizations should take in order to attract and retain good female sales talent.
1. Make gender-diversity focused recruitments
Make gender diversity an explicit goal of your sales recruitments. The language in a job description is a great place to start when focusing on recruiting a diverse pool of applicants.
This makes your sales positions more attractive for women and reinforces a female-friendly culture that attracts women applicants.
2. Eradicate the unconscious bias in the workplace
One of the most common challenges that women face in sales is unconscious bias from their coworkers. Most often women come across co-workers who,
Underestimate their capabilities
Fail to understand the extent of their knowledge and skills
Or consider them weak
However, one in four male employees say that women don’t experience any sort of bias in their workplace. This is because the unconscious bias is exactly that– it is unconscious. Those perpetuating them aren’t even aware that they hold these beliefs and that they’re reinforcing harmful stereotypes that significantly impact the career and job performance of their female peers.
3. Run female Mentorship Programs
It’s not easy being a woman in sales, and especially being a young woman (fresher). While getting acclimated into a new company, the new female reps would need another female companion/ mentor who can guide them and answer their questions which they would normally be reluctant to ask their male colleagues (e.g. traveling alone, late-night shifts, maternity leave, etc).
You can also organize “lunch and learn” sessions where all the female salespeople get together and talk openly about their challenges and solutions. This way women can build good relationships with each other and feel comfortable confiding in themselves.
4. Encourage them to approach their career boldly
Sales as a profession isn’t always hospitable to women. But could women also be holding themselves back?
For example: “Research has proven that men will apply for a job for which they have 70 to 80% of skills. On the other hand women won’t apply for a job unless they have 100% of skills”. And the same goes for the working saleswomen as well. Many of them, often, shy away from
Taking a stand at work
Presenting their point strongly
Getting involved in major projects or events
And making their presence felt
5. Encourage them not to try to be a man
Are there skills that women bring to sales that men often don’t? People often wonder
If you ask me I’d say yes there are. Women are more naturally intuitive than men. And trusting their intuition can help them succeed.
6. Provide good promotion opportunities
In order to retain your top female sales talent, you need to offer opportunities for their growth. Ensuring that women from within the company have the opportunities to apply for higher-level positions will help increase diversity and offer career momentum. Additionally, having women in leadership positions will attract more women to the industry because it shows there is a definitive place for them.
Don’t leave us yet: We hope that you have enjoyed this first part of the blog series “Women in Sales”. Click here to read the next part where we tell you some very inspiring stories of some of the most influential women in sales.
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Published on Mon Jun 28 2021