Updated: Jan 14, 2022
Capability or Confidence: What holds back Women in Sales?
Some starting statistics on Women in Sales.
Women make up half of the global work force but hold less than 30 % individual sales roles.
Women hold only 20% of Sales Leadership roles.
The numbers speak for themselves.
On an average, a higher percentage of women attain their quotas than men (86 % as compared to 78 % of men).
Women led sale teams have higher win and quota achievement rates (94 %) than male led teams (91%).
Yet, women in direct sales earn 21% less than their male counterparts.
The question remains – Why do so few women proactively choose careers in Sales? And why do so few make it to leadership positions?
If it is not capability, what is holding us back from claiming the place we deserve in our professional and personal spheres?
The explanation lies in the Dunning-Kruger effect: the tendency for some people, to substantially overestimate their abilities. The less competent people are, the more they overestimate their abilities. And it is no surprise that women regularly underestimate their own abilities.
In a survey carried out at a reputed organization, it was found that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. Women feel confident only when they are perfect.
And it is this quest for perfectionism that holds us back from taking decisive action.
We do not speak up in meetings until we have all the answers, we do not submit a report until it's perfect, and we do not sign up for a marathon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required.
The high estrogen levels in women encourage bonding and connection, while discouraging conflict and risk taking. Testosterone in men, encourages risk taking and competition which may explain why men do not hesitate to compete to win deals while women worry about the impact on their work relationships.
Selling, as a profession, is very often associated with words like aggression, competitiveness, dominance, and smooth talking. Not traits often used for women who are perceived as gentle, collaborative, emotional & good listeners.
While women are applauded for possessing “feminine” qualities like nurturing, creating, collaborating they are judged for qualities like competitiveness & ambition and labelled “aggressive” or “abrasive”.
It’s not enough to keep one’s head down and keep working hard, trying to accomplish all tasks. Having talent isn’t merely about being competent; confidence is a part of that talent. Success comes to those that have BOTH capability & confidence, in equal measure. And have the courage to go after that goals.
Confidence is a belief in one’s ability to succeed, a belief that stimulates action. In turn, taking action fuels the belief in one’s ability to succeed.
To become more confident, women need to stop thinking so much and just act. Because progress is better than perfection. Action today is better than waiting for the right time…
Don’t let others dim your light. Shine on!