Diversity is a hot topic in many workplace environments, and there seem to be many inclusion initiatives to help diversify the job market.
While it may look like an issue of the past, women, who represent half of the world’s population, weren’t allowed the full benefits of work until the 1960s.
Evidently, it’s not exactly ancient history. College-educated women hold fewer than one-third of all B2B sales jobs despite being the better-educated gender. Additionally, race also plays a significant factor, with white people making up over 88% of the entire workforce in sales. The issue gets even more divided when it comes to wages and equal pay.
But here’s the thing: diversity is not a simple issue. Simply adding a few extra people with different sexual orientations to your sales team doesn’t exactly scream inclusion nor innovation.
Progressiveness for the sake of progressiveness isn’t helping the business, the people looking for work, or the wage gap. Instead, it’s just a thinly veiled attempt at ticking a diversity box, which doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things if businesses don’t adjust to real-world work demands.
However, having a diverse group of people working in your sales team can help several areas, including but not limited to:
- Better-scoring sales
- Expanded customer pool
- Enhanced work environment
Let’s open up the umbrella term that is diversity and why it matters to incorporate it into your sales team to boost your sales performance.
What does it mean to diversify your sales team?
A sales team is a group of representatives whose job is to help improve revenue growth, increase sales, and keep consumers happy. It’s the bridge that connects the product to the customers, and it’s one of the most important departments within a business.
Part of the reason why a good sales team is vital for keeping a business afloat is their ability to not only gain new customers but keep them too. It’s a unique relationship based on knowing the ins and outs of their needs and a quick solution to their complaints.
This is where having a diverse team can help. As much as we like to pretend they’re not there, humans have inherent biases. Most of them are internalized through our upbringing, media, or environment, but they’re nevertheless part of our everyday reality.
Whether it’s the representative on the phone or the customer on the other line, the chances are that they may feel a little uncomfortable if they can’t see themselves in the other person.
But what is the real definition of having a diverse sales force?
Most people imagine diversity as having a token person from a specific minority group come into a team of people that all look, sound, and think the same. In reality, it’s much more complicated than that.
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t only mean hiring someone of a different culture or gender but also encompasses a plethora of workforce members from different backgrounds coming into a line of work. This includes age, weight, disabilities, educational background, socioeconomic class, religious beliefs, professional skills, and even personal experiences.
All of this works toward gaining a clearer perspective on the people using your service and the ways in which you can help them effectively and efficiently. Essentially, it all comes down to doing good business.
What are the benefits of having a diverse sales team?
Flipping the deck of homogeneity is not an easy task, but one that’s worth it in the long run. Establishing a good line of diversity policies within your sales team can bring a lot of good for the business and is an important sales methodology. Let’s examine why.
Better customer connections
The saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch has never rung more accurately than in sales. It takes one misunderstanding or a single wrongly interpreted word to kill a whole deal. This is where employing people of all different walks of life can help boost revenue.
Not only are some people more relaxed when they can see someone of their own creed talking to them, but they’re more prone to accept a proposal or negotiate when they otherwise wouldn’t.
The same goes for the representatives themselves. Statistically speaking, a sales rep is 152% more likely to understand better and help a client if they share the same ethnicity. That is a staggering improvement that can seriously skyrocket a business and is fundamental to great customer value management.
A sales team that works together stays lacking in performance if they haven’t covered all bases. Having team members who can pick up the heavy lifting when others don’t know how to is crucial to creating a healthy work environment and a successful business.
Training and online courses have their place, but people naturally learn from each other during work. This experience comes from having a diverse group of sales reps that can teach those who are just dipping into the unchartered waters of sales how to stay engaged with people they’re unfamiliar with.
Simply put, a profitable sales rep is one who keeps themselves engaged with a customer at all times. Knowing exactly how to do that comes from bringing in a diverse group of people into your team.
Fresh ideas equal more sales
The quest for consensus in the workplace can be a good thing, but in sales, it tends to lean on the side of disaster decision-making. Groupthink is the reason why many businesses fail to reach a wide consumer base. If one type of person is steering the boat, then it can only float one way.
Sales are driven by profit, and profit is made from innovative ideas. Thinking outside the box by including a diverse sales team is statistically proven to drive success in the market. In fact, firms that include more employee diversity have been found to experience a 45% growth in market share and were 70% more likely to reach a new market.
This doesn’t stop at just shoving a group of people into a room and seeing how well they perform. Rather, it’s a process that makes sure every person has a voice in the decision-making and creates a natural environment for ideas to flow.
A-players go for A-games
Deepening the pool of employees doesn’t mean piling up different kinds of people into your company without a purpose. It indicates acceptance of diversity and, for your business, a better chance of landing an A-player for jobs-seeking sales talent.
Maintaining a culture of inclusivity within the workspace means that people with various backgrounds are more likely to join. Millennials make up the largest chunk of the workforce, and Gen Z is close to follow in the next decade. Both sets of generations are historically the most diverse in terms of background, which means creating an environment where they know they will be appreciated is better for business.
Companies that have a wider pool of employees with a different racial background generate 35% larger revenues than the median average. The same goes for gender diversity, where companies outperform other firms by 15%.
Tips for adding diversity to your sales team
A quick sales tactic course will teach you that in order to sell anything, you need to know the customer, the product, and how to make a connection. The same logic applies to hiring a diverse pool of people. You need to know the reason, the vision, and how to combine them within the work environment. If you’re looking to do so, we have some tips.
See what diversity means for your business
It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Keeping a close tab on what you’re selling is how you need to align your company policy to fit into your vision of diversity. Treat the task like any other sales initiative.
If you’re keen on selling a specific service, think about which people would most likely benefit from it. Do extensive research into the customer pool that uses your product the most to see if you need to match that with the employees selling it.
Let’s say you’re an electronic retailer and you have a customer looking for a laptop and the best VPN for gaming. Asking Simon the tradesman from your white-goods section over Tom, the self-proclaimed “biggest gamer of the company,” to complete the sale would be a bad idea. This is where diversity pays dividends.
Track how diverse your sales team is
While this is self-explanatory, it’s important to know exactly how much diversity you have in your sales teams and how far it goes up the chain of command. It starts at the application pool and ends with the leadership levels. Top to bottom, it needs to have enough ratio to reflect a healthy, inclusive work environment, rather than just a few sales reps that work with specific clients.
In fact, significantly improved financial performance was particularly shown in companies that had more diversity in the leadership roles, by as much as 95% higher returns on equity. Clearly, being inclusive pays off.
Invest in management training
If done incorrectly, inclusivity can spell trouble for your business on a middle management level. A lot of sales managers and mid-level executives also need training – both to understand why diversity is important and how it can help them reach their goals in the long run.
Moreover, making sure that the environment for any diverse employees is and remains secure usually begins at middle management. It takes one bad experience to completely shift the view on how the company works and how high the tolerance level for unacceptance behavior is. This is why it’s crucial to have an educated pool of managers that can overcome their own biases to help boost performance and sales.
Expand your recruitment pool
Having a solid recruitment pipeline is vital in getting valuable, experienced, and diverse candidates to do the job. Expanding the way in which you hire and what merits you judge candidates on is an important part of being inclusive. However, it’s important not to read this advice as telling you to put up quotas that you must fill to check that diversity box.
Start simple. Knowing what people you have in your current team and seeing where you can improve, whether it’s in terms of gender, race, or even age, is the first step to getting on the right track. Reviewing which people typically apply for your job ads is also important to know how to reword them and access more people.
There are a number of techniques out there that can help bring a more inclusive pool of candidates to your team. Anything from blind hiring, shortlisting, and referrals can work in getting your sales team to diversify.
Create a safe working environment
This one may be obvious, but having a space for all of your employees to feel secure is good for their overall performance. Feeling safe and secure in a workplace can boost employees’ drive to help the company and reports of happiness, which has been linked to increasing sales by up to 13%.
Equipping your workplace to be safe for every person in your sales team isn’t as simple as introducing a single policy and calling it a day. It takes serious dedication and effort to make sure that those policies are actively followed, both by the executives that make those decisions, as well as the interns that are just starting out.
Follow any complaint or comment as you would when closing a deal. Make sure to pay attention to what exactly the issue is, figure out its cause, see how you can assist, and make sure to minimize the source of any similar problems in the future.
Aim for balance, not oversaturation
A well-stacked team doesn’t make for the best-performing team. Having too much of one thing can lead to more problems than solutions. This is why making sure to have a balanced policy that focuses on keeping the sales team strong while also adding in diverse people is crucial to successful recruitment and ultimately a successful deal.
Diversifying your sales team isn’t a short-term process, so aiming too high can lead to missing the point, employees, and sales. Moreover, remember that “inclusivity” means including individual people in a team, which assumes knowing that it’s not a group of people; rather, a group of individuals who need to fit into the work environment.
With equal diversity come equal efforts. But it’s the effort that pays off in the end – both figuratively and financially.