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Want Referrals? Ask Women [September Referral Selling Insights]

women in salesHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Thirty-thousand is the number, and it’s not altitude. It has nothing to do with airplanes. It’s the number of views on my LinkedIn Status Update asking why referrals aren’t discussed as the #1 approach to smart prospecting. The responses got me thinking about why women in account based sales are especially adept at referral selling, and why women receive (and give) more referrals than men—many times unsolicited.

“The best salespeople I know are women.” That’s what salesmen tell me. Why? Because women:

  • Build strong relationships and earn clients’ trust
  • Have intuition and listen to our gut feelings
  • See the complexities in a deal and dig deeper to find the best solution for each client

Women’s brains are hardwired to make us nurturers, connectors, and collaborators, and that’s why women are tops at referral selling. We take the time to build lasting relationships with our customers, and we engage buyers in insightful conversations to uncover undisclosed problems. In doing so, we earn trust, and trust is key to getting referrals.

This month, I dedicated two blog posts to women in sales. Read them and other September posts from No More Cold Calling below:

4 Reasons Women in Sales Rock at Account Based Selling

You may have already heard about the Google software engineer who wrote a 10-page memo explaining why women are incapable of doing a man’s job in Silicon Valley—namely that we’re neurotic and lack professional drive. I was appalled that anyone could have such venomous thoughts, let alone put them in writing. Just when women in tech believe they’ve made strides, the bubble is burst. The engineer was fired for violating the Google Code of Conduct, but there are undoubtedly plenty more who agree with him—whether they know it or simply possess unconscious biases against women engineers. Women in sales also know a thing or two about unconscious biases. On average, women in account based selling outperform men in quota attainment and generating sales leads. Yet, men tend to get paid more and promoted more. What can sales leaders (and women themselves) do about the gender gap in sales? (Read “4 Reasons Women in Sales Rock at Account Based Selling.”)

Can Women in Sales Overcome Unconscious Bias in High-Tech?

Daily headlines remind us that unconscious bias exists in its most virulent form. We know bias is there, but we can’t confront it until it’s stated and proven. It’s sneakier than gender discrimination or racial prejudice of old, but just as damaging for careers, relationship-building opportunities, and account based sales teams. A couple years ago, I wrote a post entitled, “The Glass Ceiling Hasn’t Shattered Just Yet.” Comments were prolific. What moved me the most were the comments from immigrants and minorities, who wrote about how they experienced the same biases as women in sales. The obstacles are even greater for women in tech sales, who work in not only a male-dominated profession but also a male-dominated industry. And it’s time to reaffirm the power of those smart saleswomen. I’ve summarized interviews with three successful women in tech sales, and share why and how they outsell their peers. (Read “Can Women in Sales Overcome Unconscious Bias in High-Tech?”)

Success Secrets from Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, and Adam Grant

A 10-year-old girl was afraid that if she once again asked her brother to teach her to play the guitar, he would think she was being pushy. Hearing her express this fear was enough to set me off. I took her aside and gave her a life lesson—there’s a huge difference between pushy and persistent, no matter how her brother perceived it. She should never be fearful of persistence, as that trait always wins over pushy. At least that’s how I perceive it. And I’m not alone. Clients appreciate persistence. Top account based sales reps don’t sit back and wait for prospects to call. They get referrals to prospects who actually want to hear from them, and they provide insights and demonstrate persistence that builds relationships and advocates. Those are lead generation strategies that always work. On the other hand, cold calling and pestering strangers with sales pitches on LinkedIn—that is pushy. Persistence isn’t just key to success in account based sales. It’s key to success …. period. At least that’s what Google billionaire Eric Schmidt and other top business leaders think. (Read “Success Secrets from Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, and Adam Grant.”)

Why There Is No Silver Bullet for Account Based Sales Development

Every salesperson in their right mind wants to grab every possible tool to accelerate account based sales development, look smarter, shorten prospecting time, and score meetings with decision-makers. But some tools are sharper than others. If it takes eight to 12 touches to reach a prospect, that tool is too dull. Digital tools are everywhere for account based selling, and each promises the same things—to shorten your sales process, deliver just-in-time insights, identify trigger events, and automate everything (well, almost everything). Artificial intelligence is the perfect account based sales development tool, or is it? The short answer: It all depends on how you use it. (Read “Why There Is No Silver Bullet for Account Based Sales Development.”)

Salesforce Series Pass

Jamie Domenici, vice president of marketing at Salesforce, interviewed me for Women in Tech Month. Our webcast—“You Don’t Need to Have It All, You Just Need to Have ‘It’“—identifies the essential communication tools salespeople should use every single day and explains why women are naturals at selling. If you’re a woman in sales, you will leave with the confidence and guidance to not just get your voice heard, but to also make a huge impact for your organization and sales team. (Click here to watch.)

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a study on referrals, and I need your help. Please take my 14-question Referral I.Q. Quiz. The questions are mostly “Yes/No,” and it should take less than three minutes to complete. Rest assured, it’s completely anonymous.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be bounced over to a results page, where you can see the aggregated answers from everyone who has participated.

Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz now.

My goal is to get a 1,000-person sample, so please invite your network to take the quiz as well. Thanks in advance for your support!

One Response to Want Referrals? Ask Women [September Referral Selling Insights]

  1. Hi Mrs Black,
    as a sales trainer & coach in Italy I face every day that many women win get more sales success, compared to male reps, had down.
    That’s a fact.
    It’s a fortune, for sales trainers, that salesforces are mainly made by male salespeople…:-)
    Thanks for sharing!

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