Who Makes the Better Salesperson? A Man or a Woman?

Sharing experienceMany of you reading this would say I’m venturing into risky territory by talking about this, but I’m willing to discuss the elephant in the room.

This question comes up a lot when I’m talking with both sales leaders and salespeople.

The interesting thing about this issue is how little there is in actual writing about it.  I find that interesting since the question comes up a lot.

First, let me say my views are based on my experience in working with thousands of salespeople over the last 15 years as a consultant, speaker and trainer.

This work has allowed me to spend extensive time with salespeople of all types across a wide number of industries and countries around the world.

I’ve found myself in nearly every imaginable type of selling situation.  My conclusions are not based on statistical research or someone’s doctoral thesis.

It’s my opinion. Okay, with that out of the way, let me dig in.

Before you throw daggers at me for my opinions, please read it entirely and yes, you’re welcome to disagree and send me comments.  Please understand all of my comments are not based on putting down one side or another.

I’m merely sharing what I’ve observed.

My first opinion is women are much better listeners than men.  Women are far more prone to listen to customers.  Why? I’m not sure, but my belief is they come by listening and communication more naturally than men do. Also, women are very open to learning, and one way they do this is by listening to others.

Men aren’t as good of listeners (and I put myself squarely in this camp,unfortunately.)

The reason is because men have this self-driven belief where they feel they know it all anyway and, therefore, the other person doesn’t have anything meaningful to say.

Men also have a desire to compete, which means a lot of time a conversation in their mind turns into a sporting event where someone will come out a winner and the other a loser.

My second opinion is on the topic of being able to develop and close a sale. Here I give the nod to men to close a sale faster. The reason is because of how men tend to see everything as an event that will ultimately have a victor.

Women — because of their desire to listen and learn — may sometimes take longer to close a sale, but can often times get a bigger and more profitable close.

What this means is in short-cycle selling, men can be better, while in longer sales cycles and more complex ones, women may be better.

Prospecting is a very interesting situation.   I’ve watched any number of women be far more successful than men in both making telephone calls and making introductory in-person calls.

What is interesting is I notice how women are able to get out of prospects information that men can’t get.  Why? Good question! The only reason I’ve been able to determine is that women can come across as less threatening than men.

If I have a product or service that requires a huge amount of prospecting both on the phone and in person, I would lean toward using female salespeople.

Negotiating is another very interesting situation, as I’ve watched men be more successful, but the reason is not what most people believe.  Based on my observations, the reason I men are more successful is that customers may have a feeling they can take advantage of a female salesperson and thus try to push for more.

What I find interesting is leading up to the negotiation phase, females do a better job of uncovering key information they can use during the negotiation.

Negotiation skill winds up being a toss-up in my book because both the male and female salesperson have strong skills they can bring to the table.

Dealing with customer issues is a real interesting situation for both male and female salespeople.   Reason is it depends on the situation.

A sad situation I’ve seen too many times is the female salesperson having to do battle with the strong-willed female customer.  In these situations, there is no winner, as both sides wind up coming out bloody.

Conversely, I’ve seen male salespeople come to near physical blows with the male customer over the most simple of issues.

If there is one thing I’ve found interesting is how many times the best solution is to have the salesperson be the opposite of the customer.  When a male salesperson deals with a female customer or a female salesperson deals with a male customer, the outcome tends to be successful.

There you have it! My opinions on which is the better salesperson — the male or the female.

Now comes the question you want to ask me.  If you, Mark, could only hire one salesperson, which one would you hire the male or the female?

Are you ready for my answer? I’m not going to hide behind a long drawn out reason.  My answer is female.

My reason is simple.

The business world is still primarily a male driven world, and to be successful you have to find the edge and do things competitors are not doing. When others are zigging, I’m going to zag.  When people are going to the left, I’ll go to the right.

Thus in a business world that is still comprised of more males than female,s I will go with the opposite, thus hiring the female.
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Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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6 thoughts on “Who Makes the Better Salesperson? A Man or a Woman?”

  1. Mark, I agree with you.
    While men are probably better at boxing, females are definitely better at relationships. If you believe selling is boxing, hire a man, if you believe it’s all about relationship, hire a woman.

  2. Most engaging sales article I’ve read in a while. You make some good points – though I think those are mostly “nurture” rather than “nature” traits that are starting to dissolve as we are slowly approaching gender equality. As a woman in the world of sales, the domination of this world by male traits and expectations is quite apparent. The good news for us ladies is that when we combine our “feminine” listening skills with sharp negotiation – they never see it coming 😉

  3. Thank you Mark, a great article and “right on the money” as far as I am concerned. So, I guess the answer is we need both!_! The “smart” company has both “male” and “female” sales professionals and uses them appropriately to maximize their sales results!_! Joe/Cape-Able Consultants http://www.cape-ableconsultants.com

  4. I am a female in sales in a field where my customers are predominately males. I find what you say to be very true and have seen these things play out. There was one area you did not focus on in your article. That is one of confidence. As a female in a mostly male world, confidence can often play a role. I find this especially the case when it comes to the closing of a sale. And probably, when the sale is not pushed, and the customer feels heard, sales generally are higher.

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