A diversity of perspectives, thoughts and backgrounds is better for your bottom line.
Let’s let the figures speak for themselves on this one. A study from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that companies with higher gender diversity, in general, are 15% more likely to have higher profit. Additionally, companies with higher numbers of female board directors have a 42% higher return on sales compared to companies with lower numbers of female board directors.
Women Can Help You Better Connect With Your Customers
Not only will having women on your sales teams be better for your bottom line, but it will also help you better connect with your customers. In order to approach customers with empathy, it’s important for your sales force to reflect the diversity of your customer base. Peak Sales Recruiting says it well:
“A more diverse sales force also is more likely to reflect the make-up of customer organizations and have representatives that can connect and nurture strong relationships with a diverse customer base. If everyone in the sales organization looks the same and has similar experiences and viewpoints, they may not always be able to find common ground with customers and prospects.”
Frankly, the data presented in this article should not be surprising. Women have characteristics and skills that make them natural fits for sales, like the ability to build trust, nurture relationships, listen and provide recommendations. Whether or not they succeeded on a sports team is neither an indicator of these skills nor is it a prediction on whether women can succeed in sales.
If you’re a startup and have the opportunity to build a new sales force, or if you’re a company rethinking your sales talent strategy, evaluate gender diversity as a key component. Set goals for the number of female sellers you want in your organization and aggressively drive toward those numbers.
In Microsoft Inside Sales, we’ve had the opportunity to hire 1,500 sellers over the past 18 months. Although we’re under pressure to hire quickly, we’ve set thoughtful goals for ourselves to ensure that we have a balance of gender diversity in our sales force not only for the reasons above but also because it’s the right thing to do.
The approach is paying off. Women represent over half of our inside sales force in some of our markets, and we’re continuing to invest in acquiring female talent. I encourage other companies to stick with the same principle. The best part is, the net effect of hiring women is that you’ll attract more women. A study from the Founders Club shows that women tend to hire other women.
So instead of focusing only on getting women into STEM, let’s add an “S” and start focusing on getting them into STEMS –Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Sales.