Talk to Us

The Gender Gap: Hiring Women in Inside Sales


womeninsidesales resized 600As an inside sales manager, I try to use my few minutes of downtime to read articles related to my field.  When I open the “news” section of my LinkedIn, almost all of the recommended articles revolve around professional women.  My news feed is flooded with articles about Sheryl Sandbergs Lean In, work life balance, women who don't want to work for female managers, women who do want to work for female managers, areas where women outperform men,  women being urged to “sit at the table." The list goes on and on. 

There was a running joke when I started at AG almost three years ago.  The joke was that “AG” in AG Salesworks stood for “all guys.”  This of course was an exaggerated statement as there were women who worked at AG when I started.  However, it is not so exaggerated when it comes to sales positions in general.  In my opinion, it is safe to say that although great strides have been made in regards to women in the workplace, sales is still generally considered a “boys' club.”

Seeing as spring is approaching and soon-to-be college grads will be entering the job market, I have made it a priority to try and get more female candidates in the door for interviews.  Ultimately, this is not because I want to dispel ideas of sales being a “boys' club” or because I want to even out our existing male to female ratio; it’s because, from what I’ve seen over the last few years, women make great and successful inside sales reps! 

I think it’s worth taking a step back and acknowledging why I took the job as an inside sales rep at AG Salesworks.  One of the first things that was really important for me to see was that both the women who interviewed me were in management positions.  This showed me that a sales and marketing organization was not strictly a boys' club, and women could advance despite the perceived greater pool of male employees. 

I was also intimidated because all the people I knew in sales were men and they all had that “killer instinct.” They were super competitive, but that was never my attitude.  In Trish Bertuzzi's blog post, Hiring More Women in Technology Sales, she notes that when recruiting women for sales jobs, it is important to avoid using war words. “Hunt, kill, crush – these words tend not to appeal to female candidates. The VP Sales is looking for other sales animals. Some might argue that ‘ninja’ & ‘rockstar’ are male-centric too.)”  Having neither a background in Sales or IT, I was relieved when the women who interviewed me were able to highlight the aspects of the job they thought would interest me. They didn't focus on fitting me to the "ideal sales personality.” 

Trish also acknowledges an important stat from Sheryl Sandbergs Lean In: “An internal report at Hewlett-Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements.” If I lacked any confidence in my interview it was because I had no experience with IT and did not even have degree in a relevant field.  I had just graduated with a Masters degree in United States history (a huge detour by any accounts).  For any woman (or any potential interview candidate for that matter), I love seeing diverse educational and job backgrounds on a resume and more often than not there is some aspect of what you’ve done that can be connected to the qualities I look for in an inside sales rep. 

The women we currently have on staff at AG kick butt, and one of the trends I would love to see in 2014 is more women actively seeking out careers in sales.  For me, the experience I had as an inside sales rep was invaluable for professional development. Ultimately, I am very glad that I embraced the “detour.” 


Optimism Guide for Inside Sales Reps

Enjoy this post? Click here for more great blogs!

Stand out by learning real life training, experiences, and learning from industry experts.

Talk to Us

About the Author   |   Kim Staib

Kim Staib, a Manager of Client Operations for AG, has been working here since May 2011. She is actively involved in the recruitment and training team. She is also responsible for managing client relationships, completing daily reporting and project analytics, and planning strategic marketing campaigns. Read her articles here.

Join the Conversation