Women make up over half of the U.S. workforce. But women hold less than one-third of business-to-business (B2B) sales positions. Why is that the case?
Companies might be missing a huge opportunity by not recruiting more women into sales roles according to Harvard Business Review. A study showed that 86 percent of women in sales achieved their quota, compared to 78 percent of their male colleagues. What’s more, women often excel at the skills that are increasingly important in B2B sales.
There are seven key skills that high-performing salespeople have and use regularly, no matter their gender:
1. Analyzing: understanding cause and effect and seeing big picture implications
2. Connecting: building a network of customers, team members, and other resources
3. Collaborating: working cooperatively with others
4. Shaping solutions: understanding customer needs and adapting the offer accordingly
5. Influencing: shaping their messages and style to maximize impact
6. Driving: applying structured and planned approaches to deliver outcomes
7. Improving: constantly seeking to do things better and being prepared to try new things
Women are more likely to emphasize connecting, shaping solutions, and collaborating. These are increasingly important to success in B2B selling. Companies and teams continue to embrace new ways to connect, develop solutions and collaborate. Some industries may never go back to the ‘way they were’ (pre-pandemic). Hiring more women in B2B sales roles may help organizations adapt, embrace change and thrive in this evolving landscape.
The HBR article argues that companies need better recruiting, coaching, mentoring and promotion opportunities in order to hire more women. These are all good endeavours. But are they the complete solution? We think there’s a more obvious starting point.
In our experience, the biggest barrier to women having sales roles in B2B companies is that sales leaders often don’t think about hiring women in the first place.
How can B2B leaders tackle this issue? Encourage women in other parts of their organizations to consider roles in sales. It’s an exciting time to work in B2B, and the growing number of women in these organizations is encouraging. B2B is finally shining the light on women, their potential and offering incredible opportunities. Sales is an excellent place to be.
More than ever, companies need to find creative ways to attract female talent and ways to help candidates be successful. It will open the door to expanding customer bases and building your business.
Each year, Mezzanine Growth shares a list of women working in B2B environments, who are nominated by their peers, for their leadership and skill. Stay tuned for our list of women to watch in B2B, coming on International Women’s Day, March 8.
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