Good news, sales leaders! The percentage of women in sales has increased from 36 percent to 39 percent over the last ten years.
Here’s the bad news: In the past decade, the number of women in sales has only risen 3 percent.
“Especially in B2B sales, it’s a very male-focused world,” Score More Sales founder Lori Richardson told us.
Lori’s sales career career started with technology in the 1980s, which gave her a lot of experience working in male-dominated organizations. Now, she helps B2B leaders solve problems within their sales teams, like growing recurring revenues, hiring reps who not just can sell, but will sell, and on how to bring in more diversity.
Lori explains that sales management and CEOs say they want more women on their sales teams. But they aren’t sure how to find, hire or keep them.
“There’s better ROI for sales teams with both men and women,” Lori says. “And women bring some great characteristics to the table.”
There are ways women can better position themselves for a career in sales (some advice on that here), but this article is going to focus on what sales organizations can do to be more inviting for women.
Start by including more than one woman in your interview process. According to research, the odds of hiring a woman are 79.14 times greater if there are at least two women in the finalist pool.
Almost 80 times greater! That’s a big difference. Here are five more tips from Lori for sales management to bring more women to your sales organization.
Sales Management: Get Ready to Increase Gender Diversity
1. Declare your intention.
State your goal of diversifying your team out loud. Tell your existing team members and your entire company. Explain your reasoning behind it and that there are all types of diversity – age diversity, ethnic diversity, economic diversity, skill diversity – but at this particular time, you’re seeking gender diversity.
Make this intention public, too. Say that you’re looking to increase diversity on your website and in job postings. Talk about it with colleagues, investors and advisors (who might have great advice for you on the topic).
2. Try unconventional job search tactics.
Your current team members can be an excellent source of new sales talent. But when building diversity, asking reps for hiring recommendations will likely result in candidates who are similar to the team members you already have.
Try searching in places you haven’t thought of before. Lori recommended recruiting from the hospitality industry: people in the hotel, restaurant or even rental car industry business. You can also try recruiting at college campuses.
3. Use gender neutral language.
Consider language when recruiting and writing job postings. Certain terms or phrases might turn people off to working for your company.
“There are a lot of war words associated with sales,” Lori said.
Instead of describing your ideal candidates as “aggressive,” which can mean combative or threatening, opt for words like “energetic,” “vigorous” or “zealous.” Rather than saying you’re looking for “athletes” – often synonymous with “jocks” – ask for team players or high-performing sellers.
4. Balance environment for all personality types.
Your office sends subconscious signals to potential employees. Make sure the work environment represents a diversity of lifestyles.
Is your office filled with sports paraphernalia, beer kegs and foosball tables? That could be polarizing, or too geared toward one personality type. Try instead to balance it out with neutralizing things that represent the type of attitude your office promotes.
5. Show women in leadership roles.
Job candidates want to visualize themselves having long-term success at the organization. When bringing women in for interviews, make sure they can interact with a female leader, VP or C-level executive. If you can’t see yourself in a position later on in the company, Lori explains, you’re probably not going to want to work there.
Use these tips to not only bring more women to your sales team, but increase diversity overall. The more differentiated your sales organization, the wider array of unique skills and talents it will contain.