The stats speak for themselves when it comes to the benefits of having a diverse workforce, yet we are still struggling to make it a reality. Research conducted by Gartner states women’s average quota attainment is 70%, while men’s is 67% and according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns.
However, In the last decade, the percentage of women in sales roles has increased by a measly 3% from 36 to 39%. And as we move up the chain into leadership roles the number shrinks yet again to a dwindling 19%.
So what’s the problem? Why aren’t things changing? If we know the benefits and companies ultimately make more money, why can’t they connect the dots and start embracing the differences between men and women?
I’ve recruited in the software sales arena for the past 8 years, I’m continually asked by clients for more female candidates and it's led me to think about this problem in great depth. It’s not just as simple as chucking a couple of female CVs over, it’s much more than that. Your culture, your benefits, your unconscious bias, your values... these things take time to change.
Last week we hosted an event in order to get to to the bottom of these issues, we were joined by a fantastic panel and I thought I'd share some key takeaways:
‘’Confidence is key’’
Confidence is key, and it comes from YOU. Hosting a panel that consisted of some inspirational women who have truly carved out a great career shows that it is possible, but one of the common themes is that it comes from the women to make it happen. believe in yourself and have faith in your ability.
A study conducted in 1978 by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes states that ‘imposter syndrome’ was only prominent in women over men due to the fact we have less testosterone (so just another thing we can blame on our lovely hormones) which may lead us to feel that we are not worthy, not inadequate. But guess what girls? We are, and we need to start believing it - otherwise who will?
‘’Selling is changing’’
Life on a sales floor is no longer like the Wolf of Wallstreet, yes the buzz is great and the energy is high but gone are the days that you’re chained to your desk with a turkey on your head being asked to make 150 cold calls in a power hour. Regardless of gender, people are changing and the way we buy, sell, and interact is also changing.
Women are often known as ‘nurturing’, ‘mothering’, and ‘relationship builders’ (cringey stereotypes, I know) but by using these traits in fact we can be fantastic salespeople. Customers want to be nurtured, looked after, and treated as a priority, and less like a number on a sales board.
‘’The right business will give you what you need’’
A lady in the audience asked us how to approach the dreaded ‘maternity pay’ conversation in an interview, without throwing away her chances of getting the job. Our panel's response? ‘the right company will give you what you want, and if they don’t, they aren’t the right business for you’
I think as employees and candidates we can often forget that recruitment is a two-way street, YES do your research, YES get to the interview on time, but also think – what am I going to ask them? Is this the right place for me?
The talent pool in SAAS Sales is extremely competitive, you are in demand and you have worth, whether you are selling a MarTech solution, Cyber, Fintech or BI there are multiple factors that will make you successful in your sales role. Culture is extremely important and if a business doesn’t want to answer the uncomfortable questions then walk away, they’ll be another one around the corner that will.
‘’Claudia and I are recruitment's answer to Ant and Dec’’
So maybe this takeaway is a little more subjective, but honestly, we had the audience in stitches! (OK, maybe not stitches but they definitely cracked a smile once or twice)
In all seriousness, from a personal perspective hosting this event was a great achievement for us both. The feedback from the audience has spurred us both on the make this a regular series, and hopefully, over time we can really start to build a culture and community specifically around Women in Sales. So hopefully this won’t be the last you hear from us on the topic, and in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this, from one of my favourite boss bitches:
"We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead." -Beyoncé