Since Covid, companies globally have been facing a crisis of employee disaffection. According to Gallup ‘87 percent of employees worldwide report being disengaged at work.’ British companies are at the epicentre of this crisis, as ‘UK and Western Europe have the lowest employee engagement levels across the globe at just 11%.’
Engagement matters in sales, as ‘teams who score in the top 20% in engagement realise 59% less staff turnover.’ As HBR research found that sales team attrition/staff turnover averages around 27%, (well above the UK average of 15%) so decreasing this should be high priority.
Increasing engagement in sales teams offers other attractive incentives; research by Gallup revealed that highly engaged teams result in increases of ‘22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity.’
Although management is often cited as the root of the engagement crisis, a Gallup report (based on 27 million employee responses) revealed that ‘female managers often outperform when it comes to driving employee engagement.’
In addition to boosting engagement, evidence suggests female managers are well equipped to excel in sales.
Women are Adapting to Today’s Sales Environment
Research from HBR’s Why Women Are the Future of B2B Sales shows ‘women succeed in sales by excelling at different capabilities’.
As noted in our recent article, the stereotypically assertive image of sales is changing. Today’s sellers have to be more subtle in their communication. Skills like empathy and an understanding of psychology are needed to demonstrate an understanding of the buyer’s perspective. The seller’s role is less dominant and more collaborative, requiring an understanding of customer problems and the ability to propose solutions. Listening becomes as important as speaking; research by Forbes shows that ‘74% of buyers are more inclined to purchase if they feel heard.’
Women can be Effective in Developing Leadership Qualities in Sales
A recent McKinsey report titled ‘Female Leadership, a Competitive Edge for the Future’ identified nine key leadership behaviours that improve the performance of teams. These heavily feature traits associated with a female management style.
Amongst these traits, ‘people development’ was where women managers significantly outperformed. The ability to provide inspiration, clear expectations and rewards were also areas where women excelled.
Female Leadership can Increase the Engagement of Sales Teams
The management traits often found in female leaders, such as communication, empathy, and the ability to form positive relationships are also crucial to increasing engagement.
A Gallup study, (reported by Forbes) suggests, that female managers, ‘tend to provide regular feedback to help their employees achieve their development goals.’ Regular goal setting helps engage employees by encouraging them to focus on improving their performance. Female managers were often found to use praise and ‘provide employees with opportunities to develop within their careers.’
While the view that women are ‘empathic’ and men are ‘assertive’ are limiting stereotypes, it clear that the types of traits customers expect from sales people are evolving.
The shift towards customer relationship building means soft skills such as the ability to listen, empathise and problem solve are more highly-valued, so these traits should be sought after when giving consideration to the recruitment of sales people, as increased engagement leads to increased productivity and profitability of sales teams.