A Story That’s Long Overdue

Paul Nolan

This issue’s cover story on the skills that women bring to B2B sales and the challenges they continue to face has rattled around in my head for more than a year. I’m glad that it finally came together. There are a lot of topics within the topic of women making their mark in what has been a male-dominated environment. Men and women alike should find it an interesting and educational read.

My hesitancy to focus on the topic was a fear that we’d get a collective roll of the eyes — from men and women. Could we address women in sales as a collective group without falling back on clichés and outdated stereotypes? After all, the women we spoke with for this feature — most of them senior-level sales managers or successful sales coaches and authors — emphasized that they self-identify as successful salespeople first and female professionals somewhere down the line.

It turns out women in B2B sales have a lot to say about a number of different issues. You’ll find much of it in the feature, which begins on page 30. As with any good story, however, a lot of great content was left out because we ran out of pages to put it on.

We didn’t have room to address pay inequality in our story, but it’s a serious issue that needs to be fixed. One female executive told us that among the nearly 100 job candidates she screened for a sales position — roughly half men and half women — the lowest-paid man made more than the highest-paid woman.

There’s more — much more — in my notes than we could cover about research showing that women outperform men in a number of key business metrics.

And one could write a whole story about the innate skills that women possess that fit neatly into sales roles — skills like relationship building, intuition, multitasking and listening. Not just listening, but remembering. “Women remember everything. We have a brain that is always on,” says consultant Joanne Black. “We say things to a man and it’s like we never said it. Women get very frustrated about that.”

Now that I’ve sat on this story idea for more than a year, I hope to revisit aspects of it soon — maybe even before the year is out. I welcome your thoughts on what else we’ve left out as well as what we’ve included. The best way to read the story and sidebars is to download our digital issue here.