Rainmakers: How Gender Equity in Sales Boosts Your Top Line
Out of all corporate functions, the second-biggest gender equity gap exists within the sales function. Despite the slow march toward gender parity in many areas of the corporate world, the percentage of women in front-line sales management has remained flat for more than 10 years.
This is particularly impactful when you take into consideration that the majority of C-suite executives have sales experience during their careers. Meanwhile, half of women do not believe female sales professionals have the same opportunities for advancement as their male counterparts, despite having the same skills and qualifications. In fact in 2015, 90 percent of new CEOs had sales experience and 100 percent of them were men. The headwinds women face in sales roles and rising into sales management leads to a lack of women for the most powerful position in the C-suite, CEO.
Regardless of why these headwinds happen, the data shows that diverse sales teams routinely perform more profitably than non-diverse teams.
According to Gartner studies, female sales leaders help stabilize the workforce, and companies with a high level of gender diversity more than double their annual revenue compared to their non gender-diverse competitors, and the benefits extend even further.
What Women Can Bring to Non-Diverse Sales Teams
It’s no secret that sales roles are difficult to fill. Employers find sales reps to be the third-hardest role to fill and spend an average of 41 days trying to fill technical sales jobs (compared to 33 days for other roles). Each day that a sales role is left unfilled, the average organization loses $407.
Yet, women are available for sales roles and moreover are not making it up the sales leadership pipeline; they make up less than one third of mid-level sales managers and less than one fifth of head sales managers.
Women bring valuable skills to sales teams. They make up an increasing share of the highly educated talent pipeline, and bring advanced skills to leadership positions. Women attained 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and above in 2015 and that trend is projected to continue (U.S. Department of Education). Additionally, they obtained 47 percent of all business degrees.
More specifically, their sales skills are impressive. 70-percent of women attained their quota compared to 67-percent of men and women stay in their sales roles for a year longer, on average reducing hiring costs for companies.
In a group setting, having women as part of your sales team benefits everyone. Gender-diverse sales teams bring in 76-percent more customers and capture 38-percent more market share.
How to Attract Women to Your Sales Roles
Here are key ways to attract women to your sales roles and retain them.
1. Put Women in Leadership Roles
Female leadership is more than a matter of fairness, it brings benefits to the team. Female leaders also build more diverse teams. On average, female-led teams are half-female, half-male, while male-led teams are typically only 25-percent female.
To attract women to your sales roles, ensure other women are paving the way, in leadership roles where they can provide sponsorship to your incoming female hires.
2. Make a Top-Down Commitment to Gender Equity
Senior leadership should make a top-down commitment to gender equity within your sales department. In order to live this commitment, it’s important that you’re monitoring the data regarding your internal gender equity (who’s getting promoted and why? what are the starting salaries for your men vs. women? are promotions based on measurable data points?).
It’s also helpful to gather candid and regular feedback from your female sales professionals, from entry-level to senior-level management. What do they say about your commitment to gender equity? Use this data to then make conscientious decisions regarding your talent.
Ensure the entire team is aware of your commitment to gender equity and why it exists — it’s not just a social issue, it’s an economic benefit to the entire organization. Everyone stands to benefit when sales teams become more diverse.