At the 2015 Chief Sales Executive Forum, a panel of women sales executives spoke at a session about the keys to success and the challenges facing diversity in the sales force, especially among women. The discussion was moderated by Rachel Parrinello, a principal at the Alexander Group. The panelists included Juli Clark, VP of Global Business Services at Cisco; Jennifer Dangar, recent President of Distribution and Business Development at The Weather Channel; Kelli Duprey, SVP of Sales at Boehringer Ingelheim; Stephanie Okey, recent SVP and U.S. GM at Genzyme; and Joanna Trimble, VP of Corporate Sales Channel at Thomson Reuters.
- Perception Is Reality – No matter the role, you’re in a people business. Women need to differentiate themselves through their leadership. Be brave and authentic by taking risks and keeping your values at the core of what you do. Find the right culture that has the balance you need long term. Finally, be curious by trying new roles and showing people what you can do.
- Embrace Changes in Your Industry – Align your business with the customers that want to evolve with you and your company’s innovation. The change from individual to collaborative sales is creating larger territories and may impact your work/life balance. Respond to and respect generational shifts through showing interest in flexibility. This adopt and expand approach is bringing more women into leadership roles.
- Create Solutions – Find ways to have impactful conversations in mixed company. Create gender partnership programs to raise awareness among male and female colleagues. This can lead to appreciation of these differences and how to be more effective with this knowledge.
Women bring a different style of leadership that is needed in sales. By creating dialogue within your company, you can find solutions to the changes that are necessary in the evolving shift in the work force. People tend to drift towards what is “like us,” but differences like gender, race, ethnicity and personality are what makes things interesting.
The illustration below from graphic recorder Kelly Kingman illustrates this panel discussion in a most innovative way. Enjoy!
Learn more about upcoming Forum events from the Alexander Group.