Expanding the Influence of Women in Sales

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It’s safe to say our operating environment has changed a great deal, seemingly overnight, this year. For all of us, especially sales professionals, we have switched from being on the road to working from home.

Pair this with the fact that buyers are increasingly seeking sales interactions that are customized, meaningful and dynamic – this translates to salespeople needing capabilities to develop strong connections that go beyond the transaction. Research shows these are strengths of women in the sales, and why Harvard Business Review says “Women are the future of B2B sales.”

Curious as to why this might be, the SUSE Women in Tech Network funded a research from Insight Avenue to explore the changing environment for sales leaders in the US and UK.

Key findings from our survey found:

  • 67% have adapted their sales approach this year
  • 87% say retaining and growing customers will be key to their recovery from COVID-19
  • 79% say we all have a responsibility to encourage the next generation of some in B2B sales
  • 71% say men could do more to help expand the influence of women in sales

Top 5 qualities women bring to new landscape

  • Empathy (listening / understanding customer needs)
  • Collaboration / relationship building
  • Transparency / honesty with customers
  • Focus on enhancing customer experience
  • Resilience

Top 5 ways organizations can expand influence of women in sales

  • Encourage women to take on managerial responsibilities
  • Create clear opportunities for growth for all genders
  • Continually promote inclusive work culture
  • Make job descriptions more inclusive / attractive to women
  • Include more women sales leaders on interview panels

To unpack further, I brought together 4 successful female sales leaders in a recent virtual roundtable. Joining me were SUSE’s SVP Global Channel and Cloud Rachel Cassidy, VMWare’s VP WW Azure VMWare Solution Sales Laurie Clough, Canonical’s Senior Director Global SI Kimberly Payton and Red Hat’s VP Sales Southeast Region Mary Oakley.

I love that while we may work at competing companies, we came together – in a heartbeat! – to pursue the common topic of how women’s influence in sales can be expanded. We jokingly called this our “frenemy panel” and here are some of my favorite soundbites:

Question: According to the research, 67% have had to change their approach to selling. To what extent have you adapted your own sales approach this year?

Mary: I’ve found that being open to having different types of meetings such as everyone go outside and have a walk and talk meeting. This gives time back so you’re not sitting in front of your computer screen and you’re getting creative.

Question: How do you welcome people to a sales team, especially remotely?

Rachel: Leverage open source values, be collaborative and inclusive. Paying attention to different cultures and ways of communication is really key. Make sure you are calling out the people who have a lot to say but may not raise a hand.

Question: What can encourage the next generation of women in sales?

Laurie: Look at the company and the culture and ensure you align with the values of this company. Will you be the first or only? Will the company help pave a way for you to be successful and comfortable?

Question: How can you be assertive without being bossy?

Kimberly: When you walk into meetings, ensure you are talking about “we as a team” and drop the “I’s” which brings a trust factor and elevates your respect factor

You can catch the full webinar on demand here.  Enjoy!

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April Moh
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