The research is clear: Diversity drives sales.

It’s true. Diverse sales teams can make more meaningful connections with your increasingly diverse customer base. They bring different experiences to the table, learn from one another, and help you understand how to target harder-than-ever-to-reach buyers. Thus, they win deals more often.

Research on the benefits of diversity in the workplace prove it isn’t just a nice-to-have; for modern sales teams, it’s a must-have. For example, a recent LinkedIn/Forrester study found that, when compared to their peers, sales organizations with leading diversity and inclusion practices have:

  • Higher sales forecasts: Leading sales organizations say their team’s revenue is expected to increase 9% between 2020 and 2021. Lagging sales teams expect just a 6% increase.
  • Higher conversion rates: Sales teams with leading DEI practices boast an average lead-to-opportunity conversion rate of 54%. Lagging DEI sales teams have a conversion rate of just 26%.
  • Higher sales attainment: Sales teams with leading DEI practices have reached 43% sales attainment so far in 2021. Meanwhile, lagging DEI teams have reached just 31%.
  • Higher customer satisfaction: Finally, sales organizations with leading DEI practices say their customer satisfaction scores have increased 24%. At the same time, lagging sales organizations reported an increase of just 17%.

That’s just one of many studies that have been conducted in recent years, clearly illustrating the benefits of diversity in the workplace. While some sales leaders are already experiencing these benefits, others claim they can’t find diverse sales reps. The message is loud and clear: It’s time to get serious about building a culture where diverse teams want to work.

Types of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity goes way beyond race and gender, although we know women in sales boost the bottom line. (Just ask Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful” on Shark Tank—He makes more money with women executives, because they take fewer risks and deliver on their targets.)

(Image attribution: fauxels)

Cindy Fassler offers an insightful definition of diversity:

“Diversity means representation across a wide range of traits, backgrounds, and experiences. Diversity doesn’t just refer to race and gender, but also encompasses categories such as age, sexual orientation, religion, military service, people with disabilities, and other traits and experiences that are reflected in a company’s workforce.”

I would also include diversity of thought as well as diversity of age. All of us, including people from majority demographics (think, white men) can offer different perspectives and points of view. The problem is when most everyone at the table shares the same demographics, and thus a similar frame of reference.

Diversity of abilities is another important factor to consider when building a culture of inclusivity. As a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the benefits of diversity noted, employing more people with disabilities could be one solution to the severe labor shortage.  The author writes:

“All employees need training and support to be successful. When workforce investments are oriented in an inclusive manner, an individual with a disability can achieve anything. Because of their lived experiences, they often have the very qualities and skills employers often seek: adaptability, perseverance, commitment, desire.”

The article also notes that these workers have higher-than-average retention rates and lower absenteeism, and cites Accenture research that shows “companies led by executives focused on disability engagement are growing sales 2.9 times faster and profits 4.1 times faster than their peers.”

Start Experiencing the Benefits of Diversity in 2022

How can you start building a more inclusive sales culture that attracts more diverse talent? The Accenture report provides suggestions about supporting disability inclusion, and there are many great resources available to help you better understand what various diverse groups want from their leaders. Of course, the best way to find out is to hire diverse salespeople and ask them.

Research is great, but for any change to happen, we need to get started. What examples do you have? What benefits of diversity have you experienced? How have you put diversity, equity, and inclusion into practice? Let’s learn from each other.

(Featured image attribution: fauxels)