Tips for Women in Sales (“Seducing the Boys’ Club” isn’t one of them)

By Shannon F. No doubt, you’ve heard about this bad decision currently in the news: Merrill Lynch passed out copies of Nina DiSesa’s dubious career advice book “Seducing the Boys’ Club” to female executives, resulting in a sex-discrimination lawsuit. (How could presumably successful and competent people have thought this “gift” was a good idea?) One of the women in the Merrill Lynch case was also called out for not being “perky” enough. But she was a business professional, not employed in the hospitality or entertainment industry! Female salespeople deal with discrimination all the time—even if it’s not intentional. If she is more successful than her male peers, a female salesperson may face comments along the lines of, “Your prospects are more receptive to you because you’re a woman.” If she is struggling, she may be told, directly or indirectly, to play up her feminine charms when dealing with male prospects and customers—in other words, to seduce the boys. Women have made enormous strides but still remain outnumbered 3 to 1 in B2B sales—particularly in male-dominated industries like technology. The good news is that sales can be a great equalizer—you are judged not on subjective criteria, but on how well you’ve met or exceeded your sales goal. Here are our suggestions for dealing with the gender gap without resorting to Nina DiSesa’s tips. 1. Treat everyone the same: professionally. That means being open, courteous, and straightforward. Everyone respects those characteristics, and they aren’t gender-specific. Professionals like dealing with other professionals. If […]