Much has been written about the gender gap in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but there is also a gender gap in the sales field. According to data from LinkedIn, women make up just 39 percent of the sales workforce, only up three points over the last decade. And the higher up the ladder you look, the fewer women you’ll find. Only 21 percent of sales VPs are female.
There are numerous reasons why this gap could exist, but whatever has caused it, sales managers and leaders who have struggled to find top sales talent should consider the benefits of hiring women in sales.
The Unconscious Bias Associated With Sales
In the book To Sell is Human, author Dan Pink conducted a survey asking people to describe the first things they thought of when they heard the word “sales.” The most common words were, “pushy,” “annoying,” “manipulative” and “dishonest.” These are not words or traits women have historically wanted to be associated with. Regardless of gender, however, these negative stereotypes keep talented people from pursuing careers in sales.
Sales job descriptions only exacerbate the issue. Oftentimes, these job descriptions include
“masculine” words like “hunter,” “aggressive” and “competitive.” Research has shown women tend to apply only for jobs that they believe match their skills and qualifications 100 percent. Men, however, apply when they think they only meet 60 percent of the qualifications. If you want to attract a more gender-diverse applicant pool, it is crucial to use gender-neutral language.
The Benefits of Women in Sales
Hiring more women for sales isn’t about being more PC or meeting affirmative action requirements. It’s just good business. There are several benefits to adding more women to your sales team:
- Women are good at sales: According to data, women are 5 percent more likely to close a deal than men, and a University of Houston study found that top female sales performers outperformed top male sales performers by 73.9 percent.
- Diversity is good for the bottom line: According to research from the National Center for Women and Technology, businesses that outperform the competition all happen to be gender diverse. Gender-diverse companies outperform their competitors in sales and have greater profits and market share. Plus, gender-diverse teams report higher average performance bonuses than homogenous teams.
- Women can help you connect with customers: If everyone on the sales team looks the same and comes from similar backgrounds and experiences, they may not always be able to find common ground with customers and prospects.
If your ag business is thinking about ways to improve your sales talent strategy, consider setting goals for more gender diversity to reap the benefits of having women in sales. To build a more gender-diverse applicant pool, contact the agricultural industry staffing experts at Morris Bixby Group today. We can connect you with talent from all backgrounds and experiences.