Having a diverse company is essential for a successful business. Revenue generated is much higher with a diverse sales team, specifically with a higher mix of women. According to data, companies with higher levels of gender diversity in their sales force significantly outperformed on their revenue goals over those sales teams who did not have high numbers of women among their ranks.
Women are underrepresented in B2B sales in most industries. Maybe that has to do with the negative connotation that is associated with the sales profession.
However, the underlying fact is that men and women are all humans, and every human looks for different things in their career. Not all men are “masculine and aggressive” and not all women are “feminine and gentle”. There is no universal answer for what all men and women want in their work environments, but when taking samples across the board there are some similarities that are apparent.
Writing gender neutral language in your job descriptions is overlooked. Removing ‘aggressive’ language from job descriptions, such as, “hacker”; “guru”; and “dominant”, and instead adding neutral language and titles can go a long way.
In LinkedIn’s Language Matters Report, they found that 44% of women would be discouraged from applying to a job if the description included the word “aggressive”. They found that women are more likely to prioritize terms that relate to their character, words like “likeable” and “supportive” for example. Whereas both men and women reacted equally positive to language such as “powerful”; “strong-willed”; and “confident”.
Lori Richardson is one of the original voices for more women in sales and sales leadership in B2B industries. She speaks, writes and consults with companies on ways to find, hire, develop and retain women within sales. She says,
“Aggressive words generally resonate less for women sellers, though it doesn’t mean they (women) will be less effective. Many managers look to hire women because of the strengths we bring.”
A tip for when writing job descriptions: have both men and women look over the job context to assure you are not unintentionally skewing your application pool due to the language you are using.
The hiring process should not be different for any individual that you are considering, they should be completely objective. That’s why it is important to uncover your process, the process will be the most inclusive, and stick to it no matter who walks through the door.
With that being said, it is very important to incorporate women in your interview process. According to research published by the Harvard Business Review, the odds of hiring a woman in the interview process are almost 80 times greater if there are at least two women in the finalist pool.
Not only is it good for the interviewee to see that there is a diverse atmosphere at your company, but you will also get diverse perspectives on the candidates. You will be able to note multiple perspectives on an individual's potential at your company and will ensure an unbiased interview process.
Harvard Business Review also wrote an interesting article, Why Women are the Future of B2B Sales that touches on this point stating,
“By including more women sales leaders on job candidate interview panels, companies are getting diverse perspectives about candidates’ qualifications while reinforcing a female-friendly culture that attracts women applicants.”
Having clear promotion and growth paths will benefit everyone, but women tend to pay more attention to this right off the bat. You shouldn’t just be stating how you can move up the ladder at your company, but instead showcasing paths that can expand on their knowledge as well. This is very important for women looking into B2B sales roles.
I asked one of our newly hired Sales Development Reps, Kate Misiorski, “What do you like about being a sales rep?” her response:
“I love sales because I'm competitive, it's a challenge, I learn something new everyday. I'm very interested in the tech sales business because it's a growing market and allows me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow”.
Company culture is everything when attracting candidates. An inclusive culture emphasizes collaboration and strong work ethics across your employees. A welcoming and inclusive culture allows your employees to branch out and reach their full potential, as well as supporting others along the way.
Forbes wrote an article, Why we Need more Women in Sales, and referenced a study that shows that companies with higher gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher profit. As well as, companies with higher numbers of female board directors have a 42% higher return on sales compared to companies with lower numbers of female board directors.
I asked our SDR Kate a second question, which was, “What attracted you to LeadIQ as a company?” Her response:
“When I was interviewing I loved everyone I met and knew it would be a supportive environment”.
I then asked another SDR, Risa Khamsi, the same question and her answer:
“The thing that attracted me to LeadIQ was the creative & jokester kind of culture. At LeadIQ, I feel like I can be myself, get creative on another level, and laugh a little along the way.”
By making job postings more inclusive, involving women in the interview process, showing opportunities for growth, and having an inclusive company culture, you can help attract more women to your B2B sales roles. However, it is important to remember it goes beyond gender. We all are human. All humans want different things. There is no universal answer.
I asked LeadIQ’s SDR Manager Jillian Clancy the controversial question, “Do women want different things in a sales role than men?”
She could not have answered it any better. If you’re a sales manager or part of your company’s interview process, remember this:
“Each human wants something different in a sales role - it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. Whenever I’m hiring for a sales role, regardless of seniority, I always try to understand that individuals why. Why do they work each day? What is motivating them to get through the hard moments? It’s important to me to understand this on an individual level - and it should be to any hiring manager.”
Hire individuals who are the best fit for the role. Be more aware of your company's unconscious biases. Have a diverse recruiting team and interview process, and in return you will have a diverse sales team.
If you want to learn more about how you can be more inclusive in sales, check out Women in Sales Pro. They help companies find, recruit, onboard, retain, and promote women in sales as well as help support women to rise within organizations. You can find the top B2B sales leaders here and learn a ton from them.