Senior vice-president, sales, PointClickCare.
According to the most recent Statistics Canada report, there has been a substantial increase in the number of women entering the work force, with most pursuing professional careers (doctors, lawyers, etc.) and more and more pursuing business.
However, one field that has not progressed as quickly is sales. The percentage of women in sales roles has only increased by 3 per cent over the past decade, according to a LinkedIn study.
Now, more than ever, is the time for women to enter sales.
At least 50 per cent of all sales leaders in Canada are specifically looking to add more women to help round out their work forces, and it is not for PC reasons.
Statistics show that women perform great in sales. Many believe women are great listeners, relationship builders and even better hunters, not letting their ego get in the way.
In the corporate world, sales is about educating clients and solving real business problems - it's less about selling and more about partnering to find a better outcome. This is something many women excel at, as they can get to the heart of the matter quickly and naturally ask questions with this mindset.
For women graduating from school, entering or re-entering the work force, or considering a career change, working in sales offers great opportunities and growth potential.
Performance, not gender-based compensation
Regardless of gender, sales offers a career path with a level playing field where anyone can demonstrate their strengths and provide value to an organization; it's not limited by anything beyond the expectations you put on yourself.
If you're ambitious and want to lead a company, sales is a great place to start. Many CEOs come from a sales path, and there is potential for fast career progression for those who are top performers.
Contrary to what some may believe, sales is the only role outside of the C-suite where you can earn as much as your ambition and achievement allow, and where compensation is based on performance, not gender.
Misconceptions about selling
Some think to be successful in sales you must be thick-skinned, have a big ego and be incredibly extroverted. That bit of 'fake news' makes some people shy away from sales as a career option.
However, stats show that women perform great in sales. According to Hubspot, women's win rates are 11-per-cent higher than men's (on average) based on a 2017 report.
Sales is consistently one of the most widely advertised jobs on the internet and there is sadly a great deal of misconception around what it means to work in sales.
Everything falls to sales and it represents one of the most highly respected areas within the business. For women who like being part of the action and are driven by targets, there is no better place to be within a business then on the sales team.
Work in an industry that motivates you
Right now, there are great sales jobs available across the country. Sales is the pillar of almost every company and the choice of industry to work in is wide-ranging.
Whether you're interested in working in a small or large firm, in communications, IT, health-care products or business software, the opportunities are endless. Often, there are also flexible working arrangements and telecommuting opportunities in sales that allow for more work-life balance.
There are also great resources available to support you on your journey. When I first began my sales career, sales programs didn't exist, but now there are great options and opportunities that provide ongoing learning.
The Canadian Professional Sales Association offers a wonderful certification program, and programs such as the Great Canadian Sales Competition help educate students about a profession in sales, while giving them an opportunity to practise and develop soft skills.
Advice for women looking to get into sales
It's vital to understand your strengths and leverage them.
If you are naturally curious, have high empathy and passion for solving problems, sales is a great career option. I often hear women say to me, "I could never be in sales, I couldn't handle the constant rejection," but it's important to embrace the rejection.
When a customer says "no,' or "not right now," it means you may not fully understand what they are trying to accomplish and where your solution could add value. If you still get a "no," then you need to move on. It's not personal.
What you offered may not solve what they need right now, however, you will have learned some new things along the way.
Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.