Lessons From Leading Women in Sales

In a recent webinar hosted by the Global Inside Sales Association, several women from the ZoomInfo sales team shared why sales was the right career move for them and discussed ways to be successful as a female in a male-dominated industry. 

While women currently make up less than a third of B2B sales roles — and only 19% of sales leadership positions — they often outperform their male counterparts. Sales performance management firm Xactly found that 84% of women in sales positions reached their quota compared to 78% of men.

As the sales environment continues to shift due to the ongoing pandemic, the skills and capabilities that women rely on will likely become more essential. Harvard Business Review, for example, reports that while high-performing men in sales focus on improving and driving outcomes, high-performing women typically emphasize collaborating and connecting. 

Here are some lessons shared by ZoomInfo’s senior account executive Carolyn Murray, sales development manager Morgan Anderson, and senior account manager Hallah Van Leuven. 

Be Comfortable with Change — and Failure

Sales isn’t for the faint of heart. To be successful, you’ll have to be able to adapt quickly, especially at a company like ZoomInfo. Companies that grow quickly can be tough to navigate for someone selling a service. “The faster you lean into change, no matter how uncomfortable it is, the better off you’ll be,” Van Leuven says. 

In the past couple of years, ZoomInfo has made several acquisitions, and our sales teams have learned how to sell several variations of our product in a very short amount of time. While this type of growth is exciting, it can be overwhelming.

Van Leuven says the pace of selling at a rapidly growing company can be intimidating because of the fear of making mistakes. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying, because mistakes will ultimately help salespeople learn faster. “Every moment that I’ve failed, I’ve learned twice as much as I have from the moments when I won,” she says.

Lean into Your Strengths

Customers and prospects are looking for real human connection with sales professionals. Embracing your humanity will help you be a better salesperson. 

To embrace the humanity of selling, it’s important to find what tactics work best for you and to develop your own voice. Sales strategies that work for others may not work well for you; they might even make you seem inauthentic. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and develop your personal selling strategy around them. “Embrace, accept, and let go of your perceived imperfections, because whether you realize it or not, those are really what make you uniquely you,” Van Leuven says.

Once you’ve established your style, you can optimize your process. “Teaching [technique] too early can just make people feel they have to follow a certain structure or box,” Murray says. “I think it’s very important to find yourself and your style first, and just try things, fail, get up, and try again.” 

Maintain Honest Curiosity 

Organizations that focus on growth often move very quickly and questions will undoubtedly arise. Remaining curious is what helps make people better at sales, because it ensures they are growing with the company, too. 

“Continue with a growth mindset, honest curiosity, and ask questions over and over until you feel like a stage-five clinger — and then ask some more,” Van Leuven says. “Never stop learning.” 

Anderson encourages her team to continue to try new things and ask questions, especially when they feel stuck. “What’s working one day does not always work the next day, and that’s the fun and frustrating thing about sales,” she says. “I always encourage different talk tracks, different questions, and different discovery, and finding your own voice.”

Don’t Be Intimidated

Let’s face it: sales can be intimidating. But leading women in sales say the old notion of a typical salesman shouldn’t hold back people who want to pursue the career. ZoomInfo was recently ranked a best place to work for women, and we’re currently hiring across all teams.

“Don’t let this picture of a person who’s good at sales — who may not look like you or may not sound like you — deter you,” Anderson says. “If you want to go out and be in sales, please just go do it.”