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Time to Level up: Break the Gender Codes in B2B Sales
Written By: Kirtika Banerjee

Sales — the term is enough to give us a vivid scene from The Wolf of Wall Street, where men are yelling at their top-most voices, multiple phones ringing at once, and booze being tossed around like a carnival. Well, that is a thing of the past now. The sales industry is dynamically reforming to make an inclusive space for all genders.

Global Representation of Women in Sales:

According to research, 41.9% of all sales representatives in the US are women, while only 54.0% are men with an average age of 46 years. In 2021, the pay gap still needs to be bridged as women earn 94% of what men earn. In the case of the global workforce, women make up more than half. However, their representation is fewer than 1/3rd of all B2B sales and 1/4th of all B2B tech sales roles with only 12% of women in the top sales positions. The company profits are close to 50% higher when women are well-represented and lead sales teams, they deliver higher success and quota attainment rates than their counterparts. Yet there is a massive disparity in gender diversity in B2B sales.

Major factors that women in B2B sales have to face begin with the gender stereotypes that confirm women to seem less competent. If they are assertive or decisive, like any other leader, their characteristics are perceived as negative. As per Forrester’s Q4 2020, 27% of women stated they are treated differently because of their gender, compared to 0% of men. This is alarming for any work culture that claims to be diverse if women are not considered “strategic enough” to be at a leadership level.

Focus on Female Mentorship

The need to develop a female-centric leadership style is only possible when a female mentor works with the new hires to help them acclimate to the work environment and answer questions that may otherwise be inappropriate to discuss with a male colleague. More than half of the female representatives in their early stages of career, project lack of confidence and state that confidence is a key area to advance in their careers.

Biases and lack of female peers and mentors make it all the more challenging. However, instead of modeling male leadership characteristics, women in sales should: recognize their own strengths; cultivate a range of leadership styles; and build a network to receive the support and training they need.

When asked about the experience in a male-dominant industry, Keerthana Venkatesan, VP at Systech Solutions Inc states the importance of having a proficient leadership board. “Indeed, it is a vast stretch to cover for women in the tech environment, but the progress that we have made is immense. With proper mentorship programs targeted at working ladies and support from the organization to balance the work-life integration, female leaders emerge.”

Success and Diversity Go Hand-in-Hand

Gender diversity is a long-drawn process, far from getting over. Overall performance increment is a significant effect of a diverse culture. Diversity is more than merely hiring a few women on your sales team. Rather than that, it requires establishing inclusivity in the layers of your work culture.

Steps towards a diverse and inclusive work environment include:

  • Add more inclusive job postings
  • Involve people of various genders in the interview process
  • Generate transparent growth opportunities for all genders
  • Steadily promote an inclusive and secure work culture

Let’s take into account a hiring question. Instead of usual ones, ask: “What motivates each employee, irrespective of gender or seniority to work through the challenges every day?” This gives an insight to better understand a prospective candidate to an individual level.

Boss Ladies, Together We Grow

Diversity within a company impacts success. Overall revenue generated is much higher for a diverse sales team compared to homogeneous sales teams. Companies with higher levels of gender diversity in their salesforce significantly exceed their revenue goals. B2B sales industry is drastically advancing. The concept of a typical salesperson is redundant because the typical salesperson now belongs to a more diverse background with better inclusion of all genders.

Harvard Business Review also added: “By including more women sales leaders on job candidate interview panels, companies are getting diverse perspectives about candidates’ qualifications while reinforcing a female-friendly culture that attracts women applicants.”

Executives are responsible for creating an inclusive culture, building policies and regulations, encouraging career advancement and pay equity, and fostering a work atmosphere where formal and informal mentorship can flourish. To successfully bridge the gender diversity gap, revamp hiring processes, job descriptions, parental leave policies, and flexible work modes.

Gender diversity and inclusivity create an open and bias-free work environment. That leads to motivated and satisfied employees, willing to go ahead for the company that understands and supports them.

Stay tuned to explore more industry insights in our upcoming blogs.

If you have any suggestions for an upcoming article or would like to volunteer for an interview, please reach out to Kirtika Banerjee at kirtikab@systechusa.com.

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