Are women better at selling than men? This is a tricky one.
In my role as a sales trainer, I probably train roughly 60% women to 40% men. Now this is interesting. Does this mean women are worse at selling than men, that they ‘think’ they are worse at selling than men, or just that men are simply less inclined to go on my sales training programmes? I suppose any of these could be true, but without a proper study, any response I make will be extremely unscientific.
However, about a year ago, I did undergo a very interesting bit of research (again, not rigorous in any way, but nevertheless the results were fascinating). I posted this on LinkedIn:
“I didn’t know there was a difference, but I went to an event yesterday (women only) where we were encouraged to be feminine and let the business ‘flow’ to us, as well as using masculine techniques like actually ringing people up and making appointments. I must admit, I’m a bit sceptical about all this!
What does everyone else think?”
Well, I got a big response. From both men and women. Some of the best ones are reproduced below:
- Assuming you and a male competitor are both proactively pursuing the same opportunity, and that you both are equally professional, I think you, as a woman, have several decided advantages. Women sales professionals tend to listen better, read body language and non-verbal ques more accurately and develop personal rapport faster than men.
- Women are much better at everything. They listen. They learn. We suck. A woman can learn a smooth golf swing in an hour – we spend 20 years trying to kill the ball. Women just make sales “look” easier because they are smarter and they listen better.
- As a marketing Director I use a program that records incoming calls and allows me to listen to the sales reps speaking to leads interested in our services….. The women dramatically out sale the males. After listening to calls for months, I noticed the female will quickly determine what the customer wants to hear and how they need to be sold. Women can change tone, aggressiveness, and her overall persona within 30 seconds of speaking with the potential client. Males seem to stick to what has worked in the past. They don’t seem to listen or ask as many questions as females do at the beginning of the call.
- Janet, none of us in sales can sit and wait for business to come to us. As xxxxx points out, we sell differently and very successfully.
We are exceptional at making connections and building and nurturing relationships.That’s one of the reasons we gravitate to referral selling. Our clients and peers look for opportunities to refer us. But again, we can’t just go with the flow. We must ask for referral introductions from the people we know well. It’s important to stay true to our style and to be authentic.
- Most people are afraid (or at least wary) of being scammed or tricked by a “shady salesman”. Notice the word “man” is in the word “salesman”. When they think of a “shady salesman”, they stereo-typically think of a man. So naturally, when they are dealing with a strange man in a selling situation, customers have their guard up right from the get-go. But most of the time they don’t have a stereo-typical picture in their mind of a “shady saleswoman”. That means customers are often noticeably less guarded when dealing with a strange woman in a sales situation. So a female salesperson often has a much easier time building trust in the earliest stages of the first customer contact. This, of course, tends to make the entire sales process easier for the woman.
- Janet, great topic. My two cents, your a woman, just be yourself, if your a man, just be yourself. Lots of great input. Most significant is do LESS talking/selling and more listening.
- The “male and female” concept in selling refers to the style, method, technique or approach.For example, women are noted to be a nurturer and a softie. Having said that, it connotes the traits of being patient, persevering, accommodating and supportive. Being masculine means strong, forceful, dominant in nature and vigorous. Implementing those qualities (women’s plus men’s) create powerful sales tactics and strategies with strong sales execution.
- For sure, you need to be aggressive in sales, but there’s also a place for letting the business come to you. In this day and age we’re ‘all’ so inundated with marketing messages that we either tune them out or react equally as aggressively (and in a non-sales-conducive manner). Sometimes at a show, I just talk to people without trying to sell them on my products or services…usually what we’re doing there comes up in conversation and by talking to them and listening I can get a better idea of whether I should push them or not. Even if you can connect with this person on LinkedIn or other social media, the opportunity to sell to them (or for them to sell to you) might come later. You just never know!
So what are the conclusions? Well, having gone through this little lot, the main themes seem to be that women are:
- Better listeners
- Better at reading body language
- Develop rapport faster
- More customer focussed
- More flexible
- Ask more questions
- Good at making connections
- More authentic
- More likely to be trusted
- More patient
- Better at nurturing
- More supportive
However, ladies, don’t let yourselves pat yourselves on the back just yet. If you are in selling:
- You do still need to approach people
- You need to try to close
- You need to be persistent
All of which, it would seem are slightly more masculine traits.
So what is my conclusion? Simply this – I’m not brave enough to start a gender war. So just make the most of your natural abilities (whether you are male or female) and remember that ultimately, selling should be about helping people.
Janet is an award-winning sales trainer based in Enfield, North London and specialises in teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. For some great free resources, head over to the Tadpole Training website and pick up some more sales tips: Click here