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Recruitment | 4 Min Read

Why Do We Need More Women In Sales

State of Women in Sales

“Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.”


Clearly, the pipeline for women starts small and continues to shrink.

Well, when a working woman has a family, it is often assumed that she organizes her part as a mother over her profession, unlike fathers. Despite the fact that women in India have surprised the entrepreneur world, they frequently face challenges not regularly shared by their male counterparts.

  • Social Expectations-

Time and again, it is heard that” Men can hang out after work, enjoy parties or play a round of golf. Women tend to have responsibilities at home that refrain their adaptability to participate in such gatherings.” Sales, in India has always been seen as a job that requires more field and less seat work, which unfortunately goes against the so called norms for women.

  • Career Motivation & Orientation-

According to Harvard Business Review, one out of three women compared to one out of five men say their career in sales came out through happenstance and no such motivation. On the parameter, “The harder I work the more money I make”, 29% men and just 19% women agreed.[2]

  • Difference in Skills-

A common perception is that, women are gifted in role-specific tasks and are not fit to manage individuals, lead them or team up. Meanwhile, an indistinguishable man (in experience, qualification, etc.) will be thought to have the capacity to lead well, represent responsibly and viably communicate with peers. This thought prompts under representation of women in these roles.

  • Fear of Failure-

In real world, failure is a common possibility in any job role or any business venture, for that matter. When it comes to sales, one may encounter 100 ‘noes’ to get one ‘yes’ which women fear often. Women in India lead a protected life. They are thought to seek permission and recognition from others in order to feel entitled to success.

Well, other than these factors, there is a feeling of self-reluctance in women for sales industry.

  • Unawareness-

One reason for lesser women in sales is that they don’t realize that it is an extraordinary career. Since the childhood, females had never ever given a thought of being a salesperson when grown up. Reasons being, there certainly weren’t any good examples as in the case of doctors and engineers. One might have thought of starting a business but not sales.

  • Misunderstanding-

A few sales jobs do demand overnight travel. Some women believe that they can’t deal with work in sales and furthermore have a family. This misguided judgement shields a significant number of them from considering sales as a career option.

  • Men’s Club-

Majority of the populace here believe that sales job is meant only for men. Most of the women take it as gender discrimination which leads to thoughts like workplace bullying, retaliation, and other stuffs that come with these unethical practices.

It might be harder to discover women who have those skills, because presumably men are doing the interviews and they may not know how to perceive those qualities in women. In other words, there come biases in employers when we talk about roles in sales department.

But the thing is, this does not explain entirely the gender gap, especially when stakes involve 48.5 percent of the country’s people. Yes, women!

Regardless of whether you’re male or female, similar set of qualities are needed to be successful in sales.

A Perfect Sales Persona

Successful selling is a consequence of expertise and practice. Like every single other skills, great selling techniques cannot be procured in a day. To understand any sales job role, it is critical to understand three basic aspects-

  • What to sell? – relates to the offering being sold by the organization; can be a product, a service, a solution or a combination of those. The extent of offering details required by buyer decides what the salesperson needs to know or do for an effective sale.
  • How to sell? – defines the process/methodology adopted by a salesperson to sell an offering. This could involve a one-time face-to-face interaction with a customer or a series of transactions which involve multiple decision-makers and interactions.
  • Who to sell? – refers to the actual buyer or the environment in which sales actually takes place. The understanding of background, affordability, need and what buyer knows about the offering requires a salesperson to adjust his/her ability to convince them buy the right product.

A collaborative study by METTL and SHRM INDIA, 2017 has aided the designing of a competency framework, which highlights the critical competencies required in a great salesperson.

For more on competency framework, click here

Now there are several competencies or fields where women perform better than men, which is why female population in sales industry, is in huge demand.

Why Do Sales Team Need More Women?

The first thought that comes to mind when someone think of sales is a well-dressed man. Majority may be the men, but women have earned a much-respected position in the sales industry. Adding an understanding of how gender diversity influences the buying decisions and recognizing gender-specific tendencies (not the stereotypes) is important for any sales job. Here are some of the reasons for why a sales team needs more women.

  • Performance- While there aren’t sufficient women in sales, those in the workforce are already surpassing their male counterparts. Women achieve 70% quota attainment on average- measures the performance of as a salesperson; higher than men, who achieve 67% on average. [3]
  • Active Listening- “Telling is not selling.” Listening to the client actually conveys the prospect’s pain points and what aspect of the product being sold is actually beneficial. Generally, women spend 80% of their client-conversation time listening and rest 20% talking.
  • Understanding Customer Needs- Brian Tracy says, “Approach each client with the idea of helping to solve a problem/achieve a goal, not just of selling a product/service.” Men are action-oriented while on the other hand, women are people-oriented, more focused on the emotional side of the conversation.
  • Work Ethic- Observing ignorance is very common in the sales industry, so prospecting calls is directly proportional to more sales opportunities. Be it cold-calling or reaching out to nurture the leads that have become cold, women beat men by 25%.
  • Multitasking- Due to the dynamic and complex nature of sales world, a sales prospect, closing a deal , nurturing a deal or following up on an initial request, all could go handy. As per a research, women are less likely to struggle when changing gears.

As per the studies on Indian women professionals, women are 3% more employable than men and that Sales and Business Development come among the top in demand job roles in the market. Interestingly, studies conducted on career aspirations of women shows that 91% of Indian women want to enter the demanding job roles. [4] So, the scenario of higher employability and greater availability seems like a magic that could flip-flop the current state of female work force participation in our country.

As women play a more dynamic part within an organization, noteworthy enhancements to the company are certain to take place.

Gender Equality from Business & Financial Perspective

“Women’s presence in an organization make the bottom-line business sense.” Women have access to feminine energy, which in turn help nurture, multitask and be social with the client.

McKinsey reported that top quarter companies, according to them, which enjoy gender diversity/equality were 15% more likely to have their financial returns above the corresponding national industry medians. There are several more reasons as to why the presence of women in an organization is important from business perspective.

  • Expanding Customer Base- The better the gender diversity ratio of the sales department in an organization, the more it reflects on the customer end-user psyche.
  • Decrease Turnover- Organizations with more women have 22% lower turnover rates. [5] The reason being increased morale and equality. Variety in mentality can convey long term staffing benefits.
  • Improve Reputation- Talking about one of the most impactful aspect for attracting talent, a recent study by PWC stated that 83% of women seek careers in businesses which has strong records of diversity and equality.[6]
  • Increase productivity- A report by Catalyst found out that the businesses it surveyed that had most number of women, cited a 42% greater return on sales, a 53% better return on equity and a 66% greater return on invested capital.[7]
  • Improves company culture- A positive company culture, indeed has a viable impact on performance. This generates creativity and fresh energy, matter of fact being happier workers are 12% more productive.[8]

So, importance of women in an organization is not like a burden to HR professionals. When implemented, it will surely lead to enhanced performance and profits. Promoting equality and workforce diversity in an organization will definitely flourish the business.

Hire & Retain Women in Sales

With keeping in mind the current selling environment that includes advanced sales skills to manage the needs of growing customer-base, the fight for attracting top talent in sales workforce has become more competitive. Companies are hitting themselves directly in the foot by neglecting almost half of the workforce.

What organizations actually need to do, for now is strategic planning to attract, hire and retain women.

  • Understand how female talent search for jobs- Men and women differ in their way of seeking jobs. Women, more likely go for more secure ways which may include job reviews and personal relationships to find employer’s details unlike male candidates who prefer several recruiting websites.
  • Equal pay and opportunities- When hiring a women, it is inevitable to understand that they, too put in same amount of efforts and time as men. Hence acknowledge them with equal pay and opportunities, trust them with the responsibilities their male counterparts are given.
  • Paid Leaves- As a matter of fact, women with young children have the lowest labour force participation rates.[9] Thus, being family-friendly and offering maternity or parental leaves increases employee engagement and productivity of an organization. The cost-benefit analysis run by some companies found great ROI on paid family leaves.
  • Offer Flexible Schedules- No! Not extending timings from 9-5 to 10-6. Allow them to schedule their work timings, without penalty for genuine reasons- sick children, sick parents, etc.- as long as they produce good results. Well, a research says that a workplace that focuses more on performance and less on hours at the desk make employees feel valued and satisfied. 86% of Fortune 100 Companies provide such flexibility.

Moreover, companies can adopt policies that takes in consideration the common challenges of female workers- mothers, precisely. Providing free or subsidized and on-site childcare could prove a blow when the aim is to hire and retain women employees.

Women bring feminine energy to the traditionally so called man’s world. This, in turn makes the experience of selling, a more adjusted and in place in contrast to the way it used to be for decades. Coordinated efforts and matching the correct salesperson for the right territories and opportunities are basics for growth of a business. Women in sales, as far as possible up to leadership has to become the norm for an organization to lead the path of success.

Originally published March 12 2018, Updated May 5 2021

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About This Topic

Sales hiring is a talent acquisition process through which organizations build winning sales teams. Using standardized sales assessments, situational tests and role-plays can elevate your sales hiring and help you hire the best sales talent.

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