The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

Why the Lack of Women in Sales Leadership is Solvable w/ Margaret Weniger


No matter who you are, it’s painfully obvious that the lack of women in the world of sales leadership is a problem.

There are women in the roles, to be sure. But the overwhelming majority of those in positions of sales leadership are men.

It’s a problem, but it’s not an unsolvable problem.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot ioh, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Welcome back to another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Really excited to have our guests on the show today, for I get that I'm your host, jumping a low senior content managing editor over it outreach. Like I said, we have a great show. We have Margaret Whinneger, sales coach mentor over at Girls Club. She's here today to talk about some interesting, some would say shocking, findings from a recent survey Girls Club conducted on women in sales, particularly women in leadership roles and sales organizations. Hope. Before we get into the meat of the PODCAST, I want toss it on over to Margaret to introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about for background and a little bit about Girls Club. Margaret, thanks for being on the show today. Yeah, thanks, Joey. I'm so excited to be here and thanks for the introduction. So Click backstory on me. I one of those people that fell backwards into sales. You know, I got told a lot that I should do it as a career, and that's kind of how it happened. Luckily, I grew up in a company early on that have a lot of great leadership and a lot of female leaderships. So I found myself in one of those situations where I wasn't asking for promotions, I was getting opportunities, which, hindsight, two thousand and twenty was very lucky for me. So grew up in software sales and most recently was a director of sales for Scales and sales development. So I've recently transitioned to being the executive director for Girls Club, and I'll tell you why, because it's something I'm really passionate about and it's in having a lot of conversations.

It's really starting to put action behind a topic that's been really hot for the last couple of years. And so girls club, this is short of it is we are trying to change the basis sales leadership, and so there's no mystery that there's a lack of women in sales. There's no mystery that there's even more of a lot of women in sales leadership, and so girls club is taking action by putting together a nine month program that skill training, one to one mentorship. We've got a community that we're putting around these women and then we're trying to shine spotlight on them so that we are helping them confidence so they will raise their hand and they will earn promotions. And that's really how we're going to measure our success. Is, are the women in the program, whether their protegees or mentors, moving up in their careers and getting to the next level? That's a fantastic goal and I'm sure that you're seeing a lot of success. And I think the driver fall of this is, like you said, there's an obvious lack of women in sales. I think I think you you're making the change that we all need and I can personally appreciate what you're doing. Yeah, let's hop into a little bit about this survey that I alluded to early on in the podcast. What kind of things were you looking for? What was the basis for for the survey? Just kind of walk us through exactly what it is sure. Yeah, so we you know, we wanted to we wanted to know a couple of things. We want to know, you know, what was the audience we are dealing with. We made some assumptions that here are women who have raised their hands or their managers have raised their hands for them and put them in this program so we guess that these were fairly driven and high performing women, but we want to confirm that. And then we also wanted to get sends for we read a lot about women in general, but we really want to know about women in sales and you know, are you know, what are the reasons, if there are reasons, why they're not going for opportunities? And so that's really what we were trying to get to the bottom is looking at this through the lens of Noe. Who are we dealing with? And then specifically... sales, you know, are we seeing some of the same the same challenges that are talked about on more of a broad spectrum of women in general? So somewhat of a state of the Union of women in sales. Were right. Yeah, exactly. What are some of the interesting findings that you uncovered? Yeah, so, you know, I think the thing that makes it alarming or shocking is that, like I mentioned, we have these are high performing women, and so a couple of questions we ask them were around performance. And so we have eighty percent of the women are ninety percent of plan or above, and these are women that are either individual contributors or they have teams underneath them, and so they've kind of fliped that eighty twenty roll on his head. You know, normally your top twenty percent of the ones overplayed, and here the bulk of the women this program are your achievers. And on top of that, we asked them about, you know, what sort of things are you doing to develop yourself, for professional growth? And what we found is that eighty one percent of these women are putting at least an hour every single month into their professional development, and of those, fifty seven percent are doing an hour or more a week. So these are highly motivated, extremely driven women who are growing themselves. And the scary thing that we learned is when we ask them in the last two years, how many of you have applied for promotions, forty percent said not once. So these are women who you would think are pushing the boundaries. They're asking for the promotions. Are Raising your hand, given how driven they are. And yet we spound almost half of them are still not going for promotions. You know, not good. No, it's pretty shocking. But you know, that leads to the obvious next question is why? Why the right and here's here's kind of words interesting one was like the obvious answer. That, I think kind of solidifies what we already know to be true, which is lack of...

...mastery of the current role and this perception they didn't have the skills for the next level. Right. So we kind of know that there's this conflict of confidence for women and that, you know, there's this desire to be perfect, and so if you can't meet all the criteria or you can't do it flawlessly, you don't go for it. So, and you know, we were just hardened to learn that that is in fact still true even for, you know, women in sales that are yo getters. The other thing that was really interesting was over half of them cited lack of openings within their company. So whether that's that they're actually aren't positions available, or perhaps that the conversations aren't getting to them, but that was another reason they weren't even going for the opportunities is that they didn't feel like there were opportunities within their company to move up. It's interesting. You you mentioned perception. I'd like to kind of Segue into what are the differences you see between these women male counterparts? Are you seeing that the same thing for men, or man going for four roles more often? Yeah, yeah, there's time. That's definitely happening. Right. I think. What is it? I think there is a steady done on resumes and, you know, applicants mailver versus female, and it was something like men could check three out of the tin boxes and they applied for and women could check nine out of tin boxes and they wouldn't apply for it because they could check the last box. So there's there's definitely an issue of that happening. Something that was really interesting too, is that they're having conversations with their managers. You know, seventy seven percent, is women were saying when we ask them, you know, what are you doing to advantage your careers, they were saying open two thirds, more than two thirds, were saying that they're talking to their managers. So there's there's a disconnect and I don't I don't want to say that they're sitting back, because they're not. They're being proactive and having conversations. But there's a breakdown that's happening in that middle layer because the conversation of being had, but then they're not...

...putting their name in the ring, they're not going after the positions, they're just having the conversation and what you could considered to be a somewhat state space with their manager. And now where does the fault lie here for this this disconnect? Is it within the women's just personal feelings about where they where they sit within the organization and their own skill level, or is it it's something that to with the environment or their managers? Where you you may not have the data to you to give a definitive answer, but where do you feel there are room? There is room for improvement? Yeah, you know, I think the culprit is both. You know, I think there are there things that companies and managers can do better for the women in the organizations and then there are absolutely things that as women, we have to do better. So it takes both, you know, and I think as women it's women that are in the program now really helping one another and, you know, get doing things to build your confidence, that self awareness to know where you might hold yourself back and pushing outside the comfort zone and being willing to take risks. We found that in the survey of the women who didn't want to take risks, it was directly correlated to career implications. The perception was if I take risks, it could hurt my career. So it's getting over some of that. And then, you know, for the companies, there's definitely things that they can do right. I mean I think knowing that women are more in clients to wanting to be perfect, struggling perhaps with confidence, less inclined to raise her hand if they don't feel like they've mastered something, and so pushing them right. You know, managers of these women, you know it pushing women, that you see the potential in them and getting behind them and supporting them, because that's one thing we do know, especially with the women and girls called one of the things we're hearing is that community and that that since that you kind of have to this tribe around you that is uplifting... You know, women crave that, and so I think companies can provide that for their women and for their performers and sometimes maybe give them the confidence that they don't quite have yet so that they can get there, because they have to get there o their own. You can always count on somebody to do it for you. I think it's an interesting point for the women out there that maybe like light bults are going off right now as they listen to this podcast. Like you're right, like I do feel as if I have to be perfect and then I'm holding myself back and not going for the positions that, chances are, you're very qualified for. They may feel like they're an island of one. What are some things that they can do themselves to feel more confident and to go for that next run on the ladder? Right, right, and I think that's where, you know, it helps to have outside perspective. We are our own worst enemy, and so, you know, one of the things that I love about Girls Club is that they have a mentor that they're paired with that's a you know, and it's an outside person that has no agenda, they have no skin in the game whether or not like what this person does at that company, because they're an outside resource. And so I think getting both male and female, but getting mentors that you can have a sounding boards that are a hundred percent focused on your best interest. That's one of the best things that they can do and you know, I think for the women that are still struggling through it even to share their stories. You know, one of the things that's been really popular in our content has been what we call these rise upon records, and it's just quick, three to five minute confessionals of women talking about an adversity they faced, the challenge they overcame, mistake they made, but it's in it's really empowering for this next generation to see here are women in rolls I aspire to be in and they still make mistakes and that's okay. So I think there's there's someone that too, as far as you know, either sharing your story so that others can see that it's okay and then, you know,...

...go out and get ment or pair yourself up with an external resource or somebody in the company. Maybe that's in a different department, but that way you've got another set of eyes on you so that it's not, you know, you're not kind of got the blinders up and making judgment calls about what you can and can't do by yourself. I think that's perfect and especially the sense of community that makes you more comfortable with taking those risks that you previously maybe been reticent to do. Or Talk to me a little bit bit some of the success stories from Girls Club. Your goal is to empower women, to to revolutionize women in sales and the sales industry in general, right one, are some of the big wins that you've seen? Yeah, a, yeah, you know, I think one of the things that was it was really great. We've seen a couple of women already who have gotten promotions, which just so exciting. We love to see that. We we are eager to do this survey again at the end and ask them confidence, why is where they're at, and see where those numbers grow to. You know, I had one we have a woman in the program who shared with me. I got to meet with her. She's here in Atlanta, where I am, and she was telling me a story about how she would have to get up in front of her larger team. So her team is eight and then there was forty people on her great team and she had to get up in front of all of them and deliver presentation once a month and the way she described it, she would be up at that podium, death gripping it heard in her heart, in her throat right sure that everyone could hear the anxiety as she went through her presentation. And what was so neat to hear is that after her first month and Girls Club, no problem, that fear was gone. The belief that she could do it had been instilled and now she gets excited to get up and give that presentation after one month. That was so excited to hear. So it's a great that. You know, that was one of the more anecdotal stories, but that's exactly the type of thing...

...that we're wanting to accomplish. was what we're doing. I can totally relate. I am not a natural public speaker. If you could see me right now, I'm death gripping my mouse. I so I think that's amazing and totally something that is beneficial day everyone more comfortable speaking in front of people. Anything else in that survey that really stood out to you that you think the listeners should hear? Yeah, well, I think there's two things. One is this doesn't have to be a girls club exclusive thing, that companies can do this. You know, I mean really, if you look at the bones of what we're doing, we are providing training, you know, and for us we're using platform called the sales bar and it's driving content for our women. So you could go get content. It's also you have to procure yourself one to one mentorship. So I'm sure there are people a companies that want to help others in their company. So, you know, letting people know. And then the other piece of it is creating a community, and that could just be for your management team and maybe it's meetups, right, but the bones of what we're doing isn't complicated. We'd love to see more companies emulating that within their organization. It doesn't take a lot of resources or energy to be able to do it. So that's probably the one of the big things. And then, you know, the other one is we get asked a lot, and it's a hot topic of like how can we attract and retain our women? You know, we've got these great women. There's no mysteries from tons of studies done to that. You know, especially in sales, like there's some of the top producers, and I can speak firsthand. I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing female sales reps and they've always been my best the female sales reps have always been the best ones on my team and so we know we asked them. What are you looking for? How do you assess a company and how do you decide if it's a place where you can grow your career if it's not? And it's really fairly simple. The execution is probably the hard part, but it's things like women in leadership and not the token female right. I mean we see right through...

...that. You know, you've got the executive team and you've got the one female. That doesn't count. You get credit, you get a little high five, but you don't get that it doesn't go much further than that. But seeing it spread out across, you know, multiple leadership roles within the company. That's definitely something when we look at. First they look to see on Linkedin, you know, our women recognized. Are Women talking positively about their companies? They're very much, you know, wanting to hear what other people are saying about it. They're looking at glass door for reviews. What are the people saying about the culture? And then the other thing is they're looking to see several of them companies. Are they putting their money behind it? So are they do they have training programs internally? I'm companies like outreach. You know that our sponsoring girls club that I have said, we believe in this. We believe in, you know, the importance of the powering women and getting more into sales leadership. Right. So they're looking at things like that to determine if it's a place where they could see themselves and that there's opportunity for them to grow. And so they're the relatively easy things when you think about it. But it's still a commitment because a lot of it comes down to word of mouth, a lot of it comes down to hearing from other women that it's a great place to be. And for the sales managers or vpiece of sales out there who are thinking, okay, I realize I have to do something care I have to to implement some sort of program. What will be the first step, the small first step that they could take? It would start the ball rolling and start the change. Yeah, something I've seen companies doing that I think is very smart is they're getting a focus group. Right. I mean, I think here's the thing. Don't think you have to have the answers. Go ask them, you know, go go ask it grab your grab your high performers, grab the women who's opinions you were subscists, who are, you know been great employees. Get a focus group of them together and ask them what would they want to see, what would be meaningful, what do they need, and then use that... help build out a program. And it might vary from company to company what people are looking for, but I would definitely encourage and I've seen companies doing that and I think it's very, very smart that they're going straight to the sources and asking the questions and then taking that and building something around it. And since this is the sales engagement podcast and we're trying to improve move the way the sellers engage with customers and prospects, what are the overall bottom line benefits of a program like this to a company? I mean, I know that you're retaining top talent, obviously, but how is this improving the engagement between prospects and customers and their sales people? Right? Well, here's the thing. Right when you take away the fear, when you take away the anxiety around your job, you allow your your sales reps to create a far better experience on their customers. I think there's a Patrick Linconi has a book about servant leadership and it's for this whole idea of inverting the pyramid where you know you've got the CEO at the top and the frontline reps of the bottom and even the customer below them right inverting that, and so it's this whole idea that you know you're serving the layer below you. So if they feel confident that they're taking care of that, they are in a place where they can be successful. A hundred percent of their energy now goes to your customer. It goes to creating that experience, to making it a meaningful so that's a huge win for your customers. is by doing this for your reps, they're passing the love on to your customers in your prospects. I think that's incredible and probably a huge eye opener to sales manager out there not even thinking about that level of anxiety and fear and what that's taking away from the productivity of that that individual Reps. I think that's an incredible thing to take away from the podcast. Yeah, Margaret, if people wanted to get a hold of you and learn more about girls club or just talk to you, how could they do that. Yeah, so, you know, definitely go...

...check out our website's we are girls clubcom. It's really easy and, even if we don't know if how you would want to get connected with us or be involved, sign up to hear from us when we have a blog that we're going to be putting content out and we want you to know what we're doing. So definitely connect to us are you can reach out to me directly at Margaret at we are girls come. I love to hear from people. I love talking any and everyone about sales and sales leadership. It's a huge passion of mine and it's, you know, especially what we're doing with girls club. I feel like the luckiest personal world to get to be in this type of role, getting to do what we're doing. Fantastic. Thank you so much, mark, for being on the show today. When to thank all the listeners are tuning in once again and we will see you next time on the sales engagement podcast. Thank you. Thanks, Jim. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy. Make sure to check out outreach die Oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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