When most people imagine someone working in a sales department, they picture a well-suited male. While many in the sales department are men, females have garnered a much-respected position in the industry. The level of success a sales professional enjoys is only up to them—how hard they work in improving their sales skills and how focused they are on providing great service to their customers.
However, certain traits can potentially increase a sales professional’s chances of success, while other characteristics (due to prejudices among other limitations) restrict success, or at least make it more challenging.
One factor that many professionals consider is whether or not being a woman gives you an edge over men in the sales niche.
To this day women are under-represented in the male-dominated sales industry. A study conducted by the law firm Fenwick & West LLP in 2014 found that women held only 11.7% of the senior executive roles in Silicon Valley’s largest companies.
Females are also at a disadvantage when it comes to salary. Women sale professionals earn 63 cents for every dollar paid to the male counterparts. One of the companies, Oracle Corporation, has been sued for avowedly paying female sales representatives less than the male counterparts.
However, women have actually received top ranks in sales, despite the under-representation and pay disparities. According to the sales comp platform, Xactly, 70% of women reach their sales quotas compared to only 67 percent of men.
Based on Node CEO Falon Fatemi’s board experience in sales and research, women possess “unique qualities and predilections” that result in them being equally, or more, capable than their male counterparts in sales.
Here are a few of these qualities:
1. Overcoming stereotypes
According to Vidya Drego—a product marketer at Sales Solutions—the misconception that every sales representative is untrustworthy is something that every professional, regardless of the gender, must overcome on a daily basis.
One of the advantages that women have over men is they don’t fit the typical mold of the “fast-talking alpha male,” making it easier for them to alter a customer’s perception and earn their trust.
While females still need to address value, answer questions about the product, and respond to objections over the cost, consumer concerns about trustworthiness are still easier for a female sales rep to counter.
2. Listening skills
Many people assume that it is usually the “sweet talkers’” that receive the best sales perks, but this assumption is actually a fallacy. Realistically speaking, the successful sales representatives are those who have mastered the art of listening to the consumer base; they are laser-focused on meeting their quotas and optimizing commissions.
Listening is a basic skill in sales; around 74 percent of the customers are more likely to make a transaction if they feel they are being heard. Listening enables salespeople to comprehend pain points and customer concerns effectively, as well as strategize accordingly about what aspects of their services will resonate with the consumer’s mind-set. Clients need to feel that they truly matter.
Women have a natural predisposition for improved listening capabilities. The portion of the brain associated with learning—the Heschl’s gyrus—is more voluminous in women as compared to men.
3. Work ethic
Even Carmichael—author, entrepreneur, and business professional—says that when it comes to many critical success elements needed for futuristic sales, men and women are equal. Moreover, women are almost 25% more likely to make cold calls than men.
Since prospecting reluctance is common in the sales industry, the more likely a sales representative will make prospecting calls, the more they are exposed to sales opportunities.
4. Collaborative problem solving
The perks of collaboration extend to all business niches, including sales. The most efficient and effective representatives also integrate extensively with marketing. According to HubSpot, companies that closely focus on collaboration between sales and marketing seal 38% more deals and achieve more than double the revenue compared to organizations with disconnected marketing teams and a weak sales cycle.
While collaboration isn’t an exclusively female trait, women are known to be more flexible and inclusive in their problem-solving. This skill comes into use when listening to the consumer and making them feel a part of the solution. The first woman to lead IBM, the world’s largest IT and consulting services company, Ginni Rometty, did not back down from pursuing a career in sales, as she could make buyers feels like they were being heard and coming up with a solution as opposed to simply pushing product.
5. High emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (or “EI”) is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others—an essential sales skill. According to a study of more than 40 Fortune 500 companies, sales reps with high EI significantly outperformed those who exhibited moderate levels of EI by 50%.
Self-awareness helps salespersons regulate their emotions and keep them in check. Sales reps often tend to bend under pressure in challenging situations and sales activity management tasks, such as attacking the competition or prematurely offering steep discounts. Emotional intelligence helps bridge the “knowing and doing gap,” enabling workers to control their impulses and avoid succumbing to counterproductive behavior.
The Korn Ferry Hay Group research revealed gender differences regarding EI. The organization found that women outperform men in 11 out of 12 emotional intelligence competencies.
All in all
Are women better at sales? As with timely success in the industry, it comes down to the individual skills. If it is true that the majority of the women are better listeners, are more inclined to prospect and have more opportunities for advancement than most men, then females should have an advantage over males in the sales industry.
However, like any perk, if it is not utilized, then it stops being an advantage altogether.
Erica Silva is a blogger who loves to discover and explore the world around her. She writes on everything from marketing to technology, science and brain health. She enjoys sharing her discoveries and experiences with readers and believes her blogs can make the world a better place.