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Could the Best Man for the Account Based Sales Job Be a Woman?

Research shows women in sales are a good bet.

Men say they don’t understand women. Women say men don’t listen. Men say the best account based sales reps they know are women, but they also say we should stop talking so much and get to the point. It’s amazing we ever get any work done with such communication gaps dividing the sexes.

Perhaps some of these perceptions get in the way of us working together. Maybe there’s unconscious bias, maybe men are jealous. (I doubt that, but you never know.)

I do know it’s time to focus on the positive—what women in sales bring to every organization: problem solving, focus, and determination.

4 Reasons to Promote Women in Sales

Women communicate differently than men. We build relationships differently. That’s because our brains are wired differently, giving women some natural advantages as sales leaders.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., outlines several of these advantages in her post, “4 Reasons Women Are a Good Bet for Investors.” She shares research that shows how women entrepreneurs generate more revenue than men. We make better mentors. We’re determined, focused, and excellent problem-solvers.

As Cook puts it:

Today’s venture capitals recognize that not only are women more likely to achieve a formal education, they also excel in social intelligence. In the technology industry where connecting with clients and forming lasting relationships is essential, women tend to be better listeners, more open to options, more flexible and more detail-oriented. 

A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that women often outperform men on emotional intelligence and a comprehensive review of studies showed that female managers are more likely to elicit respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision effectively, empower and mentor subordinates and approach problem-solving in a more flexible and creative way.

(Read the rest of Cook’s article for more on women in leadership.) 

The Takeaway for Account Based Sales Leaders

Cook was writing about women entrepreneurs in the tech industry, not women in sales, but those leadership skills transfer—whether women are leading companies or account based sales teams.

My recent post—”Can Women in Sales Overcome Unconscious Bias in High-Tech?”—generated a heated discussion. Several men said I was off base. Some account based sales women said they’d experienced unconscious bias. But the prevailing sentiment was that women have an advantage and that sales is ultimately about performance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or a man.

Here are a few of the comments I received:

  • Women in sales are experts at building relationships, which is the key to successful selling in most any industry.
  • Sales is purely a performance sport. No matter your gender, if you perform, you excel.
  • I’ve worked in tech for nearly 30 years and can honestly say my experience has been very positive. I have never felt held back by my gender, often the opposite.
  • I’ve worked in technology sales for almost 25 years, and my sales teams have never achieved parity in terms of gender, let alone in diversity.
  • As a woman who has been in the high-tech industry for over 15 years, I can tell you that I’ve always been treated with respect and always judged on the revenue I bring in. That is the beauty of sales—it’s based on results, not gender. I will say being a woman has definitely provided me advantages over men. I’m usually the only one on the team.

My favorite response was from Tiffani Bova:

Bias isn’t just reserved for men and women. Bias is pervasive and shows itself in many ways. Teams can ‘think alike,’ people can look alike, hires can be from the same part of the world. Whatever it is. Bottom line is teams, especially those who are driving change and innovation, need to be diverse if they want to be successful.

I couldn’t agree more. Smart leaders want diverse teams, made up of talented men and women from different backgrounds, who bring different skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table. That means hiring and promoting more women and minorities, and giving them equal opportunities.

So, how diverse are YOUR teams?

For account based sales teams to succeed, leaders must help both sexes adjust their communication to be heard, understood, and get work done. Find out how in my dynamic presentation, “Big Deals and High Heels: Why Women Are Naturals at Selling.”

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