Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I’m almost six months into a new job and one of the few female sales people on the team. I keep comparing myself to the men when delivering presentations. I feel like I’m losing my authentic voice along with my confidence. Do you have any recommendations for how to regain my confidence as a new member of a male dominated team?
Answer: The sales profession is one of the last male-dominated frontiers, so it’s no wonder you’re picking up on all of the signals that say, “you don’t belong.” Until recently, aggressive, brash, and hard-nosed were three adjectives commonly associated with sales. But, while today’s sales directors are looking for team members who are more thoughtful, consultative, insightful, and who possess better listening skills, they may have little idea how to support your success. Here are some tips that may resonate:
Focus on excellence, not perfection. Being a minority in a group — whether that be for your gender, your race, your sexual identity or something else — can be more than just lonely. It can mean that everything you do stands out, and that your successes (or failures) aren’t simply one-offs but wholly representative of your identity.
The adage that you will need to be twice as good as everyone else may be true. Research shows that when you’re among the “only,” you are held to higher standards. That might explain why women often hold themselves to near-impossible standards — in other words: perfection. But, focusing on not making mistakes makes it more difficult to take risks or fail, which can leave you frozen. Instead, try to focus on being excellent — not perfect — which naturally means making some mistakes while you perfect your pitch and regain your confidence.
Use what you were born with. Mercer’s 2016 When Women Thrive study found that women typically have unique skills needed more in today’s market than ever, including:
- flexibility and adaptability
- inclusivity; and
- emotional intelligence
Your potential customers don’t want to be sold to. They want to work with someone who listens to them, can empathize with their needs, and who partners with them to come up with a solution. So, stop comparing yourself to the guys and reconnect with your intuition about the path to success.