According to LinkedIn, women represent 39% of all sales professionals. Over the last ten years, when millennials first entered the workforce in large numbers, this figure has increased by 3%.
Despite these small numbers, there is every reason to think that many millennial women can thrive in sales. One 2015 survey found that of job characteristics, millennial women most value opportunities for career progression (53%), competitive wages and financial incentives (52%), and the availability of flexible working arrangements (35%). Sales professionals enjoy these benefits.
Millennials are transforming the way companies sell, and while millennial women have less representation numbers-wise, they are doing their part in changing the profession for the better.
Why millennial women enter sales
For millennial women looking to choose a career in sales, there are many advantages:
- Sales professionals are well compensated. The median base salary for an entry-level inside sales professional in the United States is around $45,000, with added commission potential on top of that. Sales professionals who excel can look forward to bonuses and career growth. For a generation that came of age during a recession, the opportunity for upward mobility is attractive.
- Many sales professionals receive opportunities to travel, or even to live abroad. For the internationally-minded millennial generation, this represents a perk. 71% of millennial women say that they would like to work outside of their home country at some point in their career.
- Selling is an inherently social profession. When sales professionals aren’t talking with prospective clients, they’re in touch with coworkers and supervisors. For millennials who consider themselves socially inclined and aren’t looking to be hiding behind spreadsheets and a desk, sales could very well be a great fit.
- Sales professionals enjoy a level of flexibility that can be difficult to obtain in other professions. 97% of all millennials value work-life balance, and a sales career can provide it.
- While many millennial women may worry about facing wage discrimination, the structure of sales compensation plans allows them to avert that pitfall. When all sales representatives earn the same commission rate, women have the opportunity to earn a salary that’s commensurate with the value they provide.
- Sales offers a unique opportunity to work in a truly merit-based industry. Young professionals looking to make an impact will find their ambition and hard work is rewarded and celebrated.
Despite the preconceptions about sales that are prevalent among millennials, many millennial women find a great fit in a sales career—and they are excelling.
Sales success requires building relationships
Although the image of the pushy salesman retains cultural power, that stereotype is far removed from the reality of today’s B2B sales professionals. The best salespeople are capable of building long-term relationships with clients. It’s not about dazzling clients with a slick presentation. Rather, sellers must establish themselves as trusted partners who are good people to do business with.
Since business purchases typically require approval from more than one person, the B2B seller must cultivate multiple strong relationships before closing the deal. This requires an adaptable approach. The 60 year-old VP requires a different touch than the 30-year old engineer. Many contacts are themselves women and/or millennials, presenting yet another advantage for millennial women.
With the growth of social selling, millennials’ social media skills can also come in handy. While many more experienced sales representatives can be out of touch in regard to the ever-growing social media landscape, millennials are good at intuitively building connections on social media. 90% of top selling sales representatives use social media as part of their selling strategy. That’s good news for millennials who are fluent in social media, but may be less excited about the prospect of cold calling.
It is no secret that a high level of EQ is paramount to building professional relationships and closing deals. Let it be know that since women generally have higher level of interpersonal skills, by some measures, women are 5% more likely to close out a deal as compared to men.
B2B sales is a collaborative game
The era of the lone brilliant salesperson in their office closing sale after sale is over. Just as buyers make decisions collaboratively, so too must sales professionals collaborate among each other.
Today’s sales professionals must collaborate with a range of people: other sales representatives, the customer success team, product development, and even representatives from the marketing department. If a sales professional is open to collaboration and can manage a wide range of relationships at the office, they will be positioned for success.
Collaboration comes naturally to many millennial women. 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture to a competitive one. For millennial women who grew up participating in sports, clubs, and other collaborative activities, they prefer to see coworkers as teammates, not competitors. They know how to work effectively as part of a team without letting ego get in the way.
Research demonstrates that the most productive teams include both men and women. Companies with at least one female board member enjoyed higher revenue growth than companies with no women in leadership positions. Millennial women have a unique perspective to offer their teams and are contributing towards more successful outcomes.
Millennial women are tomorrow’s sales leaders
So far there aren’t as many millennial women in senior sales leadership positions as there should. But as the growing number of millennial saleswomen continue to advance in their careers, they will start to enter these roles. Because communication and collaboration skills are so critical for sales managers, millennial women can excel as sales leaders.
We are currently seeing a growth in the number of women in sales, fueled in no small part by millennials. Furthermore, millennial women in sales are exerting a big impact. Going forward, we can expect B2B sales to be even more collaborative. The importance of social media will continue to grow, permanently changing business relationships.
As more millennial women make their mark on sales, the profession will continue to evolve in new ways. The millennial women who choose to enter the profession stand to become influencers who will reap the benefits of success.