For starters try trawling the ‘sales training’ book titles on the real or virtual shelves of any book retailer. I’ve blogged before about the myriad of overly aggressive and testosterone heavy book covers and the poor impression that these portray of the sales profession. If you haven’t read that article on LinkedIn please take a peek now (Click Here), as it will be a good preface for this one!
I’m going to tell you the conclusion of this piece up front, that way you can either read on knowing you’ll like the outcome or bail out early if you won’t.
Here goes! I am on a mission to drive up professional standards within the sales profession. I have now come to the firm conclusion that this goal will never be achieved, NOT until we have closer parity in numbers between male and female sales professionals.
Before I get shouted down, by cries of “unfair” from the many extremely professional and ethical salesmen out there please bear with me. I know you exist but there just aren’t enough of YOU!
Here’s the conundrum; the women we need in sales are being put off by the reputation of the sales profession, but we need THEM to join the profession in order to improve the reputation.
I regularly set attendees of my sales training courses ethical and moral dilemmas to see how they would react. When faced with a decision of either losing a sale by telling the truth or keeping quiet and doing a deal, a scarily high 75% of salesmen admit that they would take the deal. In contrast (and admittedly in a much smaller sample) less than 10% of saleswomen would keep quiet. It may not be ‘scientific research’ but it tells me all I need to know!
I’m not surprised by this as let’s face it ‘we’ (the sales leaders of the past) have ‘created’ these salesmen! We have fine-tuned the cash hungry sales equivalent of the heat-seeking missile, dodging this way and that with a single goal and an absolute purpose!
Today where honesty, authenticity, trust and collaboration are at the heart of modern business relationships, can you see why I fear for the profession?
Some forward thinking sales trainers like myself have been talking about and training a ‘new way of selling’ for some years now. The tide is slowly changing but the challenge comes when the sales numbers are not where they need to be. Much good work can be destroyed very quickly by a lapse back to the bad old ways!
There is some good news! In a few weeks time I will be in London as part of the Judging Panel for the European Women in Sales Awards. For reasons made completely obvious by my thoughts above I am delighted to be involved in this fantastic annual event. The quality of the entrants last year was extremely high and having already done the initial sweep of the entries to decide on the 2015 finalists, it looks even higher. Initiatives like this one are vital to showcase the sales profession as a credible career choice for women. A career choice where women have already proven that they don’t just survive, they thrive and they excel.
On another point, we know that we have far too few women represented at board level in our major organisations. We also know that MOST of those that are there have come through the sales career route. Therefore by bringing more women into the sales profession we will in turn, also start to improve the ratio of males/females in our corporate boardrooms too!
So if you are a woman considering a career in professional sales please GO FOR IT and don’t let other people put you off. The sales profession needs you and ‘business’ needs you.
If you agree with my sentiments please like and share this blog with your connections both here and across social media. Feedback and constructive comments are especially welcome.
Thank you for reading.
Since publishing this post I have found an interesting blog based on scientific research that looks at gender in the USA sales profession. In the USA far more women are working in Professional Sales and in a small number of industry sectors the ratio is 50:50. In the USA working in sales does not have the same ‘stigma’ as it does in UK as it is seen as a ‘true’ profession. Here is a link to that article: Do Women Have An Advantage In Sales Jobs?
If you have a ‘sales challenge’ in your business, call me, Stuart Allen on 07557 919039 to discuss. It’s confidential and free.