“A woman can never sell as well as a man. They’re not built for it.”
That’s the kind of thing I heard a lot of back in the 1980s & 90s. Here are a few other lines I recall hearing on a very regular basis from men at conferences, happy hours and in other conversations:
- “They’re too emotional. They can’t handle the pressure of this job the way we can.”
- “They’re too relational for their own good. It’s the product that sells itself.”
- “Who even wants to buy products or services from a woman? A buyer won’t trust a woman selling our product.”
Cringe worthy words to read for most of us. There has been some improvement in our industry over the past decade or so but, unfortunately, sexism is still alive and well in the business of sales.
Even in my early days, I clearly knew many of the female sales professionls around me could help me improve in my skill set, and they did. I wasn’t afraid to seek out their thoughts on a variety of topics and I became better for it.
I believe quite a few other men with whom I worked felt the same, but the majority of them wouldn’t admit it.
We now know better that, for buyers, buying is emotional, buying is personal, so buying should be relational. Today, a lot of men are paying good money to receive training from female sales coaches/consultants who’ve known all along the importance of emotions and relationships when selling to a buyer.
With that said, I read a captivating blog post last week about a woman many of us have heard of who began her career in sales in the 90s and wildly succeeded in sales despite the prevailing [strong] prejudice against women in sales at that time, and even through this present day.
Freelance content manager, Huffington Post blogger [and an ENTP, for all of you personality test aficionados] Debra Carpenter(@hello_itsdeb for @hirevuesales) recently sat down with Elinor Stutz (@smoothsale) who shared her remarkable story of her days starting off in the sales industry a couple decades ago.
The post is called: “Elinor Stutz Opens Up About Life as a Woman in Sales.”
Whether you’re a woman or a man, this tale is worth reading because so many of the pillars of selling Stutz believed [and still believes] in are accepted best practices in sales today. Elinor was ahead of the game and she persevered through it all despite the persistent opposition from colleagues and management.
We can all learn more about the importance of trusting what you know to be true to persist in tough sales stretches.
Here are a few quotes from the post:
“It’s not about selling the first sale. The ultimate picture, which is much more rewarding, is repeat business, referrals, and testimonials. That’s what I call the ‘smooth sale.’ You don’t have to worry about it anymore. You deliver what you promised, and they’re so happy with the customer service, they keep calling you back and for more enhanced services.”
…and this one:
“Men burst out laughing, ‘How could a woman possibly know anything about sales?'”
…and this one:
“I’m very calm when you meet me, I’m not aggressive, I don’t boast about myself. It’s almost like the opposite of the image most people hold of a salesperson. I’m from the older generation, taught to be very polite and not boast, and ask people about themselves.”
Debra’s focus on the Accelerate Blog is to tell the stories of women sales professionals (read them all here). There’s been a void, and a need, for these stories to be told. They serve numerous important purposes, and I was really pleased to find her writing on this topic.
If you haven’t clicked over to Carpenter’s post, please do so now, then pass it along to the rest of your sales team with your thoughts on the story of Elinor Stutz, who now is a bonafide sales leader in the industry.
Kudos to Debra Carpenter for telling this story so effectively.
QUESTION: Who do you know, a woman, who’s persevered in the industry despite prejudicial treatment from colleagues and/or management? Tell us about her in 140 characters or less, and tag me: @SalesExecutiveX.
Let’s talk about it…