How to emerge as a woman leader in this Male-Dominated World

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  • by WSI Editorial
  • May 06, 2021
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Women are done following stereotypes and confining themselves to what others think is appropriate for them. As they say, ‘that age’ is long gone. Today’s modern woman is as much independent and free as any other individual, all thanks to the decades of awareness campaigns for gender equality and rights.

We see them pulling off with insane ease, each role that she takes upon herself by her choice, and this applies to both personal and professional lives. However, the only concern that remains, is the proportion of women in comparison to men.

Women Selling Today

women today

Women in sales is a frequent topic for discussions and debates, yet very little importance is given to the ‘to-improve’ list of companies. There is much talk about the changing role of women in sales B2B businesses and society as a whole, but do we invest as much time to look into what measures are being implemented to actually achieve the diversity we keep talking about?

No doubt the times have changed a lot, and women are now mainstream professionals, even in the highly male-dominated sales department, but the numbers don’t really add up. Although women make up more than half of the global workforce, they represent fewer than one-third of all B2B sales and one-quarter of all B2B tech sales roles.

There are lesser women in sales, even though their performance is equal or better than their male equivalents. When comparing win rates and quota attainment female-led sales teams outperform those led by males by 3%, also, 7% more women attained their quota in comparison to men.

Let’s begin with the question, ‘Why are there lesser women in sales?’

why are lesser women

It is no one’s fault but the way companies have been conducting sales over the years. Think about what comes to your mind when you think about a salesperson – aggressive, pushy, and eager to close a deal at any cost.

This image of a sales rep discourages them from taking up selling as a career, thinking that they do not possess the skills to be persuasive. For example – 44% of women would be discouraged from applying to a job if the description included the word “aggressive”. Nonetheless, there are numerous incredible women working successfully in sales around the world and setting examples for ones who are skeptical to make a decision.

The Changed Landscape

changed landscape

In recent times, B2B business has undergone an evolution, with both buyers and sellers becoming more humane yet competitive at the same time. Sales is not about just closing deals anymore; it is about building relationships with prospects through communication and good listening skills, before finding them the best solution to their problem.

A research was conducted by Harvard Business Review’s consulting firm, ZS, and they found that women excel at different capabilities than men, especially connecting with another person, shaping solutions to a problem, and collaborating with teams.

Never say “B2B is not about women”

b2b is about women

In the present context, the B2B buyer expects a personalized buying experience, much beyond what your average digital tools can offer. Also, with the shift to remote or virtual selling, communication with prospects has become key to success – something that plays to the capability of women. The high-selling tech field is a perfect example of the importance of women in sales. These companies usually have consumption or subscription-based products, which are not one-time purchases. This means that whoever is dealing with them has to be a company and industry expert who is highly skilled at building relationships and gaining trust. Basically women.

If you think about it, most businesses are embracing the concept of selling remotely, and it is likely that this pattern will continue in the future. Hence, the skills that women in sales possess and master almost form the basis of the success and revenue that the company wants to achieve. And if these companies are not intentionally inclined to securing gender diversity, they might just not do as well as their potential. 

Just recruiting women to run your sales department is not enough. They need to be acknowledged in their efforts, which roughly translates to equal promotion opportunities. company profits are close to 50% higher when women are well-represented at executive levels. And when it comes to the coveted top sales jobs, women hold only 12% of those positions. Isn’t it contradictory to how a firm should actually work? It’s food for your thoughts.  

Starting Out Now – How to make my place?

women's place

How much of a challenge it is to be a woman in this typically old boys’ network fashioned field? Well, although the dynamics are changing, sometimes it is just difficult to adjust. It takes some extra work to assert their position, but again, if you are clear and determined in your thoughts, you will get ears to listen to you. If you can produce results, you will stay in the game and be treated with the same respect as any other rep. Here’s how!

1. Learn to deal with rejection

No, it is not the job, it is the clients. On the job, you will have to face rejections, which might make you doubt your capabilities. How to bounce back into the ring? Turn it into a learning experience. Take away your faults, work on them and make a strategy. Come back stronger and determined.

2. Have someone on your back

Find a mentor you can trust. Many companies are working on providing female mentors and coaching programs where you can discuss work-related things which you cannot speak about with your male colleagues. It need not necessarily be a woman, it can be anyone you trust and respect to guide you honestly and help to keep you on track.

3. Speak up whenever necessary

Yes, it is very important. If you are in a meeting where your ideas are being side-lined, make sure you speak up and get your message across – your ideas and suggestions are just as legitimate as your colleague’s. Get them to respect you as an authority. If you observe some practices at work which are not right, talk to the leadership or the management and put your idea across.

4. Learn from other women

Of course, everyone is a learner all through their careers. Salespeople learn something new every day. But if there is something bothering you regarding gender diversity, look up case studies, interviews, and podcasts of successful saleswomen. Get their insights, experiences, and tricks to tackle your issues.

5. Step up your game

If your sales are going great, well, great. But if it is not, you might want to come out of your comfort zone and experiment a little. Question the way you sell. Take ideas from your colleagues, and find your way of helping your prospects. Dress professionally for the job you want, stand out from the crowd.

What are you waiting for?

Gender diverse teams are very crucial to the survival of B2B companies in the future, as both genders have different skills, they are effortless at, although no generalizations can be made. But more than that, the improvement in the performance of your team matters. Women are just as good or even better as men at selling, and they might just be your star performers if provided with the right environment, resources, respect, and pay.

And to all the women who are reading this, it is time to buckle up your confidence and learn about yourself. If you’re good at interacting and solving problems, the sales world is waiting for you.

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