When it comes to working in sales, some may picture a room full of sharp-suited men on the phone pushing a sale or closing deals. Much like the film Wolf of Wall Street. But this isn’t exactly the case. Especially now that women are finding their ground in the sales industry and proving they are just as capable of closing the same big contracts as their male counterparts. Women are not to be overlooked in the sales industry, as they have been making strides and steadily progressing over the years, despite having to face many blockers in their careers. In honour of International Women's Day, in this blog, we’ll look deeper into gender equality for women in sales, the concerns, progress and what more can be done to improve gender equality between men and women.
Source: Christina @ wocintechchat.com
Equality in the workplace for women in sales
Every year on March 8th, industries come together to celebrate and shine a light on diversity in their industry, highlighting their female workforce on International Women’s Day.
Last year the theme for International Women’s Day was #BreaktheBias, and the year before that, the United Nations themed International Women’s Day, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
Thanks to the efforts of these campaigns, it seems as time goes on, industries are consciously taking steps to be more inclusive and aware of the gender biases in their workforce. However, there is always room for improvement.
The research behind progress for saleswomen
The gender gap between men and women in sales varies depending on the specific industry and type of sales role. Research shows that in many industries, men are still overrepresented in sales positions, particularly in leadership roles. According to a report by LinkedIn, women make up only 39% of sales roles globally, and only 21% of sales leadership roles. Additionally, the gender pay gap is prevalent in sales, with women often earning less than men in the same roles.
In 2018, the International Journal of Sales Transformation published an insightful issue on diversity which is still very much relevant today. Including research on the gender gap between men and women in sales, in this issue, other topics discussed included:
- Championing Women in Sales
- Lessons in inclusive leadership
- The advantage of diversity
Source: Christina @ wocintechchat.com
Research also shows that women-led teams perform better, even though female sales managers only make up 26% of the industry, while women make up 49% of sales reps. Although this may be the case, saleswomen still face many challenges in their work environment, which is heavily male-dominated:
- Gender bias in the workplace
- Fewer promotion opportunities
- Earning a lower salary than their male colleagues
- Receiving unsolicited advice
An interesting factor about this research is that for some organisations, attracting women to a sales role is not the problem, but more so retaining these women. This leads to the question, what can be done to now retain women in their roles at their given organisation?
“A better balance on gender equality at work starts with looking at work/life balance. The power of technology has enabled work and life to blend together more than ever, however in order to support gender equality we should look at promoting people who are doing their best work in a way that suits them best through more flexibility.
In addition to that, women need to help and support other women.” Madison Carmody: Senior Sales Manager, Singapore
How has the sales industry changed in the last 10 years?
Over the past decade, many organisations have made great strides when it comes to bridging the gap between men and women. We are seeing women breaking down barriers that previously held them back. There has also been a movement of female empowerment in work and general social settings. You can see this with the rise of women holding and campaigns that support women and gender equality such as ‘This girl can’, a campaign developed by Sport England and ‘Girls Do Science’ by Microsoft where they looked at the gender divide that begins in school.
As an effect of the need for women's empowerment and support, according to the Harvard Business Review, these are 3 changes that have occurred in the sales industry that have boosted the number of women in sales:
- Increased representation and diversity: There has been a rise in the number of women in sales roles across all industries. Many companies are making gender diversity an explicit goal of sales recruiting, committing to specific objectives for sourcing, selecting and attracting women.
- More opportunities: Women are now being offered more opportunities for career progression in sales, including leadership positions. Promoting more women to sales management and leadership roles is a clear path to attracting and retaining more female salespeople, and a good way to develop female leaders is to champion women.
- Support networks – Mentorship programmes: Women in sales are now able to access more support networks than ever before. This includes mentorship programmes, women's sales groups such as on LinkedIn, and development resources designed specifically for women. Companies are also taking steps to improve coaching of female salespeople, especially by male mentors.
Source: LinkedIn Sales Solutions
Where is it going?
As more women continue to enter and succeed in sales roles, we can expect to see even greater progress in years to come.
Addressing the gender gap between men and women in sales requires a well-thought-out approach, including efforts to improve representation and leadership opportunities for women, eliminate pay disparities, and promote a culture of inclusivity and diversity within the work environment. By doing this, companies can create a more desirable and successful sales culture that women can feel wanted in.
Although there has been great progress with the representation of women in the sales industry, we can still look forward to more positive change.
How can Consalia empower more women in sales through sales transformation?
Consalia is a big advocate for the progression of the sales industry through sales transformation and sales education. Through Dr Philip Squire's research, we are aware that the typically traditional ways of selling no longer meet the standards of today’s customers, and that training alone cannot bridge the gaps in knowledge and skills required of some salespeople. What is needed is a transformation of the sales mindset to better understand an individual's way of selling and how it can be aligned with customer expectations. Buyers require an environment of trust, where they are understood, where ideas are brought to them and where they can be appropriately challenged.
The sales industry is evolving to be more inclusive. At Consalia we are dedicated to encouraging diversity within the industry and supporting women to pursue a career in sales through our quality events and programmes:
- Level 6 BSc Professional Practice in B2B Sales Apprenticeship
- Level 7 PGDip Professional Practice in Senior Sales Leadership
- Executive Masters Degree
- Coaching for Sales Transformation
It is also worth noting that one of our cohorts for the Level 7 PGDip Professional Practice in Senior Sales Leadership is all women!
Although International Women's Day is an annual event, our commitment to supporting women in sales remains constant. We achieve this through sales education and transformation, as well as highlighting leading saleswomen through our Sales Transformation Podcast, social media channels, and events such as the Global Sales Transformation event and the Peter Critten Awards Ceremony.
This year for International Women’s Day, we at Consalia are excited to show our support and discover more leading women in the sales industry.
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