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Women and sales: a winning combination

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"Sales is such a fantastic career for women for so many reasons," says Mary V. Bass, founder and CEO of a website devoted to sharing valuable information and resources to women in business-to-business sales. Bass says that for many women, a job in sales can offer flexibility, tremendous earning potential, and an ideal balance between work and family. And, she says, many women have what it takes to do well in sales.
"Sales is the easiest, most difficult job in the world," notes Bass, who feels her years playing sports in high school and college prepared her for a successful 15-year career in sales. "Sales takes discipline and desire. I played sports and am very competitive. I learned early in life that to get better at shooting baskets, I had to practice over and over, day after day to make a basket or a perfect layup."  
Bass says it's the same for sales. "You have to keep pushing yourself, pushing for a goal. There are lots of sales positions that are transactional, and if you're goal driven you can really make it happen. There were days when thought, if I just make 10 more phone calls, I know I'll get a sale."
"Women make great salespeople, not only because I think we listen well, but also because we listen the right way for the key take-aways." Unlike many of their male counterparts, Bass says that women ask questions and then truly listen for the answer. "Women are not in a rush for you to finish so they can tell you what they have to say. I am genuinely interested in the person I'm speaking with -- in my business and personal life. It's my nature to start conversations and to want to understand more about the person," says Bass.
She also feels that women have greater sensitivity and are more compassionate listeners. "Successful sales women say the right thing at the right time." Bass notes that in today's selling environment, it takes a lot more than just pushing your product or service. "Women want to be genuinely helpful to clients," says Bass. In many cases, she believes that this desire to be helpful leads to more loyal customers.
Bass notes, however, that, "Sometimes, women brush off careers in sales, often saying 'Oh, I just couldn't ask for money.' It takes them outside their comfort zone." She says they may feel they don't want to ask the hard questions to close the sale. But it's really about helping clients purchase what they want and need. "I pride myself in being politely persistent. It's taken me far," adds Bass.
Bass says sales is a career where women earn the right to grow and mature in the profession. "Working in sales and growing into a successful sales person can really pay off. I love to promote sales as a great career for young women just starting out too. You'll have to start at the bottom, but if you get in and have the willingness to work hard, it's a job where in just a few years out of college you could be making six figures," comments Bass.
Sales is also an area where companies are looking to diversify their sales force. "Before I launched the website, I did a lot of research and heard from many companies that were looking to hire women in sales," says Bass.
"When I managed a sales team and was recruiting, for every 12 to 15 resumes I would receive only one would be from a woman. There are just not as many women out there competing for the sales job," she adds. 

Last Updated: 16/05/2012 - 10:36 AM

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