Women in Sales
By Katharine Wright
All over the world women are defying stereotypes by becoming a reckoning force in sales and marketing. Once a male-dominated sector, marketing is being taken by storm by some of the brightest minds in sales, where women are creating groups offering support and scholarships and there is more female representation in top management positions than ever before. Studies show that a more diverse workforce benefits business in terms of return on equity and operating results. However, there is still evidence of a “glass ceiling” in executive roles, and women in advertising experienced a jump in workplace sexism from 49 to 60 percent between The Drum’s 2014 and 2015 reports. We asked some businesspeople what they think about women breaking through in sales and marketing – some challenges they are aware of, how the industry is changing, and how women succeed.
The sales profession has always been very welcoming to women
Juliet created 2to3days.com to fill a hole in the market for a connection between mothers who want to go back to work part time and employers. She is a mother, businesswoman, and business coach who is passionate about her family, her business, and helping other women succeed in their careers after having children.
One of the many advantages to setting up and running your own business is that you get to create your own rules so there is no ‘glass ceiling’ in my company! Instead the structure of the company supports me, and the people who work for 2to3days.com to really flourish as people. Unsurprisingly therefore we have also attracted some great men and women to the business who 100% support our vision and philosophy
Women on the whole are far more open, collaborative, they tend to talk more freely about their emotions, what makes them afraid/holds them back. Whilst men tend not to want to talk about the emotional stuff but instead their approach is very logical, functional and straightforward. In some industry sectors for example the Commercial Property Industry where I started my career women were 15 years ago women were and still are in the minority.
“Women on the whole are far more open, collaborative, they tend to talk more freely about their emotions, what makes them afraid/holds them back”
I think the sales profession has always been very welcoming to women and I can think of countless examples where across industry sales roles are done by women and incredibly well. I think where it can become a barrier is when the women becomes a mother and she wants to reduce her hours to be with her children and the culture of the company she works for values presenteeism over output. So we need to move away from a fear based culture that you have to be seen all the time and move to one based on trust where you are valued for what you achieve.
Women just need to be who they are
Lina Bourdon is originally from Ukraine but lives and works in London as a financial professional. She started out new to the country learning to make cold calls, but worked her way up in financial services for 10 years, helping hundreds of people achieve their goals through advice, planning, and protection. She is the now an MD and founder of City & Country Financial Services Ltd.
I see lots of women in sales and there are lots of very successful stories. The sales industry in my opinion is just as welcoming as any other industry. We probably need to talk about those success stories more and share experience so we can help other women in their business and career. Men are more pushy and persuasive when it comes to sales. I think women just need to be who they are and use it to their advantage. Sales businesses are becoming less sale-sy. When you work in sales you do have targets and goals. But businesses do realise that people buy from people they know, like and trust. So sales these days is more about people, not targets. And when you take care of people targets and goals take care of themselves. More women we have in sales and more businesses we have led by women – more “feminine” sales will look.
More women we have in sales and more businesses we have led by women – more “feminine” sales will look.
Women are more flexible than men, they are also more tolerant and are able to adapt to new world. Women have creativity. Women care more. All of this is huge advantage in business in general and in sales in particular. More women in business always mean more variety and as a result – more success. To be successful in any industry you need to like what you do. Can you like sales? Absolutely! You need to see how products or services you sell help your clients and make their life more fulfilling.
We are less the minority in meetings
Sharon is the mother of a 5 year-old daughter. Although she is a very busy woman, Sharon is very close to her family and is a passionate athlete having recently completed her first half marathon and triathlon. She has been working in the insurance software industry for 15 years and still finds each day varied, interesting, and usually challenging. She is a client facing person who loves the variety and sociability her job offers.
You work in a field that is mainly dominated by men – how do you feel about that?
It definitely has its challenges at time. There are still issues that can come up, but it can also be an advantage. You can stand out more and women will often try to help each other out and I’m finding more and more that we are less the minority in meetings.
How did you start your career in sales?
I have often felt that Account Management / Client facing roles are very close to sales, but have been nervous in the past of moving into a sales role. I was looking for a new challenge and this seemed like the most natural progression.
What are the biggest challenges in your job and how do you overcome them?
Balancing what you’d love to offer a client with what can realistically be delivered. Understanding their requirements and why they think that should be their budget or timescales helps to prioritise what’s important to them and what their pressures are.
How do you manage the challenge of being a mother and progressing in your career?
With the support of my husband, parents and friends. Without an amazing network around us, it would be impossible to manage. Living close by helps so the commute time is reduced and I do work many evenings to catch up on work that didn’t get done during days spent in meetings.
Many women who are readers of Global Woman have started their business – what would be your sales tips for them?
I personally need to believe and feel passionate about what I’m talking to people about and selling. I think people get that and want to work with people who care about what they’re delivery and doing.
What are your future projects?
Like a lot of people I think that when you work long hours and put a lot of effort into what you do, you can’t help but wonder whether you should be working for yourself. I’d love to get yoga into my daily routine. And I really, really need to renovate my whole house!!!