How do we support women in sales

The incomparable Carol Burnett, in a 1969 article in Salesman’s Opportunity Magazine, said, “Tell a woman something can’t be done and watch her do it! Apply this talent to the business world and you can see how far ahead any gal is just by instinct.”

I always liked Carol Burnett, but now I love her. In 1969, a woman still needed her husband’s signature to borrow money or get a credit card. Burnett sure was way ahead of her time.

(Heads up: I’m going to ask you for your credit card. Read on to find out why.)

The Hidden Talents of Women in Sales

Men have told me,”The best salespeople I know are women.” Why? Because women in sales:

  • Have intuition and actually trust it
  • See the complexities in a deal and dig deeper to find the best solution for each client
  • Build strong relationships and earn trust

Women are naturals at selling, but many have been reluctant to pursue sales careers, because they view sales as pushy and aggressive. (Think “used car salesman.”) That’s starting to change. There were practically no women sales leaders in 1969. Today we account for 40 percent of sales team leaders, but still just 15.2 percent of sales executives.

Yes, the leadership gap is huge, but you can help to close it.

Paving the Way for More Women in Sales

Progress has been slow, but the tides have at least begun to turn—largely due to trailblazing saleswomen who created a path to the top for other women. One such trailblazer who evangelized women in sales was my dear friend, Barb Giamanco. She was a go-getter and, like Carol Burnett, she was ahead of her time. When Barb identified a huge gap in the world of sales, she didn’t just gripe about it. She took action and created her podcast, Conversations with Women in Sales. For years, Barb interviewed sales leaders, salespeople, and women across a spectrum of ages and cultures.

Sadly, Barb passed away two years ago, but Lori Richardson at Women Sales Pros continues this podcast today. Lori also decided there was more she could do to honor Barb’s memory and inspire women to pursue sales careers. She contacted the Sales Education Foundation and established a college scholarship for young women interested in sales, and she named the fund after Barb.

How You Can Help Women in Sales

I was one of the people to select the finalists for last year’s scholarship, and it was a tough decision. There are so many talented young women who will go on to transform sales organizations. All they need is your support.

Many companies can easily help us replenish the fund for 2022. Just $1,000 helps one woman defray the cost of her education, and $10,000 will support 10. But no donation is too small.

While not a massive amount, these scholarships serve to cheer on the women in college and university sales programs. And that’s an investment worth making.

If you want to do something awesome in Barb’s memory this week, please consider a personal or corporate donation of any size to the Sales Education Foundation Barbara Giamanco Memorial Scholarship.

If you didn’t know Barb, you can learn about her by listening to the first 65 or so podcast episodes of Conversations with Women in Sales. Trust me when I tell you, she was nothing short of incredible. I believe Carol Burnett would have thought so too.

Thanks in advance for not only remembering my dear friend, but for committing to developing women in sales at the university level. You’ll help change the paradigm about sales from used-car salesman to a trusted sales advisor,

(Side note: Thanks to Todd Capone @SalesHistorian for his research on Carol Burnett.)

(This post was originally published on June 4, 2020 and updated May 26, 2022.)