Does gender matter in sales?

Everyone knows men and women are different, but does it matter in sales? The traditional school of thought is that men are more driven and go for the close. On the other hand, popular thought indicates that women are better listeners.

Really? If this were true, I guess we would find that only men can really close deals, while prospects and customers view women as being empathetic.

The truth is gender doesn’t matter in sales. What matters is whether or not the individual possesses very specific and measurable traits.

We analyzed data on over 300,000 salespeople collected by Objective Management Group and found a clear distinction between the elite top 7 percent of salespeople and the rest. Amazingly, there are only three distinguishers (and none has anything to do with gender):

1. The elite don’t need approval.

What this means is that they don’t care much what others think of them. They don’t care about whether or not they are viewed as “salesy.” It doesn’t mean they aren’t empathetic. It just means they don’t worry about how others feel about them.

2. The elite are proficient consultative salespeople.

This seems pretty obvious, but defining a consultative salesperson is complex.

The specific, measurable traits that make up truly proficient, consultative salespeople are: asks great questions; asks enough questions; quickly develops relationships; presents at the appropriate times; uncovers issues; understands how prospects buy; takes nothing for granted; is able to ask tough questions (maybe, because they don’t need approval?); and is able to listen/ask with ease.

3. The elite possess supportive beliefs about selling.

Everyone has some preconceived notions, and frequently those restrict our success. We believe what we want to believe about someone or certain circumstances, rather than objectively evaluating people or situations. We can be our own worst enemy.

Elite salespeople, choose to believe they can do, rather than letting circumstances or beliefs get in the way of actually doing it.

These findings are clear cut and distinctive in separating the elite from the weak. A fourth finding, however, is exactly the same when comparing the best and worst.

4. There is no difference between the elite and the weak in their ability to build relationships.

How can this be? Well, this proves that building relationships alone isn’t as important as some might think in terms of sales effectiveness. In other words, the data from over 300,000 indicates that the ability to build relationships has no bearing on whether or not the individual is a good, mediocre or poor salesperson.

When building an effective sales team don’t spend time analyzing gender and evaluating personalities and an individual’s ability to build relationships.

Instead, focus on the key differentiators that elite salespeople possess, such as sales DNA required to effectively execute (no need for approval and supportive beliefs). Additionally, look for the traits of a consultative seller to truly separate the elite from the pack.

To better understand your sales force, complete a quick Sales Force Grader.

Gretchen Gordon is the president of Braveheart Sales Performance.