I’ve done the research: in sales Men are from Mars and Women from Venus… we can learn from each other
Last week I explained that my blog is called Sell Like A Woman because there is an increasing body of research overseas showing that woman are often outperforming men in achieving sustainable results in sales and client relationships. And I promised you I would start to highlight, from my research, what successful sales women do especially well. So here is your first snippet.
Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.
I asked 50 highly successful sales women across a wide variety of industries about the differences between male and female sales people.
There was a uniform feeling among all the women interviewed for my project that female sales people are better at establishing a long-term relationship with a customer, are better listeners and find it easier to identify emotions and respond with empathy. Here are a couple of quotes from some of the women in the research project.
“I strongly believe that female sales people start from a very different place to our male counterparts. We start with the relationship. Rather than darting in and offering quick fix solutions, we take a longer term and ultimately more strategic view of the potential value of each client to our company.
“We are willing to be more patient in bringing a client on board, if it will generate better results. I think it also fair to say that, from my observations, women do more of the detail/paper/leg work themselves (rather than delegating it to others), are much better time managers, and less caught up in ‘appearances’ – less ego driven. If I were a client, I would rather have a female rep looking after my interests.”
Another had this to say: “Big generalisation: women tend to be better listeners, and men are better at asking for the business. Women are more patient and men are more direct. Women like to build the relationship, when men like to ‘consummate’ the relationship with the sale.”
All of women interviewed responded in unison, believing saleswomen have certain advantages over men. This surprised me, given that up to date, still, a vast majority of salespeople are male, and sales as a profession is still considered a male profession.
The results of my research are consistent with other extensive studies done. Rosenbaum (1999) found that women have a real edge over men when it comes to complex selling, and in particular they surpass men with respect to the following competencies:
- Aligning customer/company strategic objectives.
- Listening beyond product needs.
- Orchestrating organisational resources.
- Consultative problem solving.
- Engaging in self-appraisal and continuous learning.
To help us come to grips with these and other competencies that make for good sales success, I will focus on a specific competency each week in my blog and this will give you the opportunity to explore how you use each competency in your work and sales careers – and how it affects your sales performance. Think about it like fitness training – bit by bit over time.
I welcome your feedback and findings.
Sell Like A Woman is purely about raising the level of consciousness of what qualities really make for great sales people (men and women alike) in the 21st century. So maybe we can begin to help managers clearly identify and articulate what they are looking for.
Author: Sue Barrett is Founder & Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd, an Australian based sales fitness firm that helps businesses build high performing sales teams and is author of soon to be released book ‘Sell Like a Woman’.
For more Sell Like A Woman blogs, click here.
Mark Parker from salesnetaustralia.com.au writes: It’s an interesting hypothesis, but I can’t help but feel it’s an overly simplistic one. I agree that women generally have traits that ‘should’ lead them to being more effective at selling, but wouldn’t you argue that the male trait of being inquisitive is as relevant as the patience trait of women?
One area where I think women in sales excel is their ability to take training for what it’s intended – an exercise to improve the person and their abilities, whereas the male tends to put up barriers to learning because they can’t be told how to sell better…
Sue replies: Mark, I understand your comment about being overly simplistic. However this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is significantly more reseach than what was not presented in this piece.
What I was reporting on here was what my group of 50 women found in their experiences. FYI, each woman was surveyed separate to all other women. This finding is just one of several findings gleaned from my research. I would not imply that women are better than men at building effective long-term relationships.
Many men are very good at building effective relationships with customers. However, what we and other researchers have found is that women on the whole tend to listen beyond the obvious product needs better than men. Women use their inquisitiveness to understand the big picture and then see how what they have to offer fits into the customer’s situation. They are less product focused than men – they are more solution focused. They also tend to position their offering from the customer’s perspective better than men.
They are, on the whole, less combative and more consultative working with the customer to achieve the right outcome for all concerned. This builds trust, repsect and good results for the customer, company and the sales person.
What we have also found is that top performing sales men and women tend to be more open to learning and developing themselves. I personally have never had a problem in a learning setting training top performing sales men and women. They all wanted to learn how to be better which is probably one of the reasons why they are more successful.
What I have had issue with are the long-term sales people who are average performers and don’t think they have to learn. They are their own worst enemy. Your observation that men tend to put barriers to learning maybe because you are seeing a bunch of average performers and most of them are men.
Bala Arabatti from vanuatu.com.vu writes: As per our experience, females would best suit for door-to-door selling, merchandising/in shop selling and cold calling, as they would be more accepted to be listened/heard. For long term relations we feel the males would be more suited for such jobs where building trust, spending time with clients understanding their needs comes in to play. Now, the trust, better listener, empathy towards customer would be more person oriented.