The sales industry is an intricate profession where people must focus on how they should sell themselves and their products or services. Women can have a particularly difficult time with this, as Stephanie Szklarski, a sales manager at Sandler Training in Southern New Jersey, says, because women have a way of psyching themselves out when it comes to sales.
"A lot of women feel that it's tough getting into the all boys club," she says. "I think, granted, that there are still some prejudices against women, but I think a lot of it's in our own heads. If we could overcome this and use it to our advantage…"
Szklarski points out the vast advantages that women innately have, which can be great for sales. As a teacher for Sandler Training/Rhine Associates, who has just started teaching a class geared toward women in sales, Szklarksi has noticed that women's naturally affinity toward being nurturing, which is helpful in a sales position.
A lot of sales is related to psychology and one theory says a sale replicates a transaction between a nurturing parent and a child, the child being the recipient of the sale. Again, Szklarski noted that who would be more inclined toward nurturing than a woman.
"Women just need to get out of their own way," Szklarski says, adding that once women embrace their natural talents they will become better at sales. Diane Darling, the owner and CEO of Boston-based sales firm Effective Networking, Inc., offered a few suggestions for how women could present themselves more effectively when they are making sales pitches.
"Women's voices go up, sounding like they're asking permission," Darling says, "but then men don't know whether they should pay attention to the tone or the pitch."
Darling suggests that women should speak in a more neutral tone and focus on their stance as well. Women tend to cross their legs while men stand more firmly and plant their feet. Taking more of a stance gives the impression that the man is more sure of himself and therefore makes his pitch more effective. Women also tend to be more indirect and hint at what they want or are looking for, which Darling said can also hurt someone's sales pitch.
There are also a few suggestions for pitching to a crowd of both men and women.
"When pitching to mixed company, immediately establish your credentials," Darling says. "Get there early, engage women in conversation because they don't want to feel sidelined. They want to feel like they're getting equal treatment."
Single women or women without children also sometimes have difficulties pitching to married women with children. Szklarski, who is both single and has no children, explains that she tries to get herself in the mindset of the married mother before she begins her presentation.
"You have to try to put yourself in their shoes," Szklarski says. "The best way to do that is to get them to trust you and ask the right questions. Then they feel as if you understand them."
And making the person listening to your sales pitch believe that you understand their wants, needs and concerns is vital to being successful in the sales industry, Szklarski explains. She believes that the most important thing in sales is to get the prospect to be honest with you. Szklarski maintains that if women embrace who they are and work with what they already have, they have a naturally affinity toward greatness in sales.