Women Can Be Very Successful in Sales Careers

It’s my observation that sales is a career that offers excellent opportunities for women and is primarily egalitarian.  I say it’s almost egalitarian mainly because the company must hire a woman before she can take advantage of her sales career, and that may still be challenging, especially for women just starting out in her career or for those women who took time off to raise a family and have returned to the workforce.

Prejudices still exist that may result in ill-informed managers not hiring some very capable women in sales.  Those existing prejudice challenges still prevent some women from being hired and for a lesser number of women in salesforces than men.

Approximately 42 percent of sales representatives are women in 2023, up slightly from 39 percent in 2010.1 In most cases, no physical limitations would prevent women from a sales position.  There are some sales fields where women typically outnumber men, some as pharmaceutical sales.

In my experience, there is very little difference in sales performance between women and men, with women performing slightly better. This is probably because a woman must be exceptional to be hired, whereas a man does not have to be as much.  I have not noticed differences in sales metrics, such as pipeline building, number of presentations, wins versus losses, and closed sales.  Some women may be more intuitive and better at reading a prospect’s intentions, which is very helpful in closing sales.

In most sales organizations, earnings are based mainly on commissions from closed sales. Since sales performance is not affected by one’s gender, whether the salesperson is male or female, a sales career is one that a woman can be successful.

Commission checks don’t know if women or men are cashing them!

I have also enjoyed working with several outstanding female sales managers. I did not perceive any difference in their sales performance compared to a man’s. Most worked up to a sales manager position by being successful as sales representatives. I have also worked with some highly competent and successful female Vice Presidents of Sales. I think there are no differences between their performance based on their gender.

In my book “Above Quota Performance,” I discussed thirty characteristics a sales manager should look for when hiring a high-performing sales professional. Of those thirty, the top ten are:

  1. High character and integrity
  2. Passionate about their work and self-motivated
  3. Intelligent
  4. Achievement-oriented
  5. Sales acumen
  6. Empathy
  7. Emotional intelligence (EQ)
  8. Self-confident
  9. Communication
  10. Persuasion skills

None of these are affected by one’s gender, perhaps excepting that some women may be more empathetic than men. Also, some women may be more driven to be successful because they may want to prove to others that they are equally competent or if they feel that they need to justify being hired for the sales position.

Many companies are now emphasizing DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in their hiring practices, which should result in more women and minorities being hired for sales positions. In addition, companies seem more flexible now regarding allowing for childcare responsibilities. Sales positions can sometimes be based at one’s home, which may make it easier for many women.

In summary, now is an excellent time for women to choose sales as a career.  I hope you try it if you are interested.


1 https://www.zippia.com/sales-representative-jobs/demo