Opportunity Knocks for Women in Sales
Creating gender equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do for society, but also the right thing to do for business success.
Creating gender equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do for society, but also the right thing to do for business success. A 2014 Credit Suisse report of 3,400 companies, showed businesses with more female senior managers perform better financially than those run by mostly men. Organizations led by a female CEO saw a return on equity averaging about 19 percent higher and dividend payouts about 9 percent higher than companies run by men, the report found.
Gender diversity starts when companies make a concerted effort and have a commitment to recruiting, retaining and helping women succeed. To be agile and adapt to the ever changing business environment, companies need diversity of thought around the table — that comes when both men and women share the boardroom.
But it seems women are less interested in certain roles that men are drawn to, such as sales and financial services.
In an effort to find out why more women — especially Gen X and Millennial women — are not considering a career as a financial advisor, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) conducted a survey entitled, Closing the Gender Gap in Sales. The study revealed much more than a simple explanation as to why there are so few women in financial services. It wasn’t an issue with the industry, but rather with a career in sales, no matter the industry. The issue starts with five main barriers that exist for many women to considering a career in sales.
The barriers identified by the study span across cultural and personal views that interfere with women even considering a career in sales. By looking at the five personal barriers that stifle women’s interest in sales careers, it’s clear social norms and women’s career expectations often collide.
Unfortunately, many women are unaware that their functional and emotional needs can be met by what a sales career can offer.
For women who have considered a sales position in the past, three-quarters of them would consider it in the future; suggesting women who have explored a sales opportunity saw it as a potentially rewarding, meaningful career. Once women take a closer look, they’ll see that a career in sales can give them the type of life and balance they seek.
So whether a woman already has a successful career or is just starting out, there are some key points one must consider to successfully pivot into a sales career.
Many people believe that in order to be successful in sales, they should have an ego-driven, aggressive personality. In fact, 77 percent of women surveyed think they’re not “pushy” enough for sales. Fortunately, the opposite is usually true and most successful sales representatives, regardless of gender, are driven by a desire to help others and solve problems, to guide their clients and build relationships.
While 72 percent of women surveyed said they can lead their team to success at work, they still rank being a leader 11th among their top traits. While usually possessed of a different leadership style than their male counterparts, women make excellent leaders and their often natural tendency to value communication and collaboration are a valuable asset to any team.
Take a Risk
When one in two women is most comfortable sticking to her routine, it is clear that women are playing it safe. Research shows that 57 percent of women don’t even know what it would take to be successful in sales; without a clear career map, the idea of entering sales presents too many unknowns. However, for those willing to take a chance on themselves, sales creates the opportunity to bridge the wage gap, drive their own income and create a work/life fluidity that works for them.
Let Go of Perfection
Eighty percent of women set the bar very high for themselves personally and professionally. In fact, studies show that most women will not apply for a position or promotion unless they have 100 percent of the required skills… while men are comfortable applying with only 60 percent of the required skills. It is important to remember, whether you are a man or a woman, that perfection is impossible and sometimes we need to take the jump and trust that we will learn what we don’t know, and that the skills we do have will provide value.
About Misty Weltzien
As the Director of Business Development for Pacific Advisors, Misty Weltzien is charged with recruiting, attracting, and developing experienced advisors looking to take their practices to the next level, and career changers who feel financially or intellectually stagnant
Originally from Palm Springs, CA, Misty moved to Orange County to attend California State University Long Beach, where she received a degree in Finance. She and her husband Travis live in Tustin, CA and are both very active in their community. Misty is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters OC, the ASPCA, Future Leaders of Our Community, and the National Association of Professional Women. She is also the Immediate Past President for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors OC.
 “Women Donʹt Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation‐‐and Positive Strategies for Change,” Linda Babcock, Sara Laschever, Bantam Publishing (February, 2007)