Why More Women of Color Need to Master Sales and How to Do It

There is a shift happening in our society where diversity and inclusion are becoming more than a hot topic. It’s becoming a key to success.

A study by the University of Chicago found that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns.”

According to a study of over 500 U.S. based businesses conducted by sociologist Cedric Herring, businesses with high diversity are brought in 10-15 times more sales revenue that businesses with lower diversity. 

While prioritizing diversity in sales and other business sectors continue to see powerful results, there’s still a long way to go. Recruiting women proves to be a challenge for many businesses. An even greater challenge yet is recruiting women of color.

A 2017 study found that only 9.8% of first-level managers and officials in the U.S. workforce are women of color. As you continue to climb the corporate ladder, the numbers decrease. Only 5% of senior-level managers were women of color, while only 3.8% of Fortune 500 seats were held by women of color. 

While businesses fail to capitalize on an increasingly important demographic of the American workforce, women of color are continuing to master sales when opportunities are available.

Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO of staffing firm ActOne Group, plans to see $3 billion in revenue by 2020. Cathy Hughes has grown Radio One, a multi-media company, into the first black-owned company in radio history to rank high in major markets. These women are outstanding examples of how women of color dominate their fields. 

If you’re looking to grow your business and want to master sales, try out these tips:

Join a Supportive Organization

It’s easy to feel unsupported when you don’t see as many people who look like you doing what you’re trying to accomplish. Being a part of a supportive organization can help boost your skills and confidence in sales.

The National Association of Women in Sales Professionals (NAWSP) features a group of 14,000 members with:

  • 29% of the membership is African American
  • 15% Hispanic
  • 2% Asian
  • 11% who self-identified as Other

NAWSP provides women professional development, sales training, and resources created by women to support more women in business and sales positions.

Sales organizations are not the only organizations that can help you. Toastmasters is a worldwide nonprofit organization that promotes communication, public speaking and leadership skills. This is a good place to hone your communication skills by just finding a club near you.

Networking groups can also offer great opportunities to work on your relationship building and communication skills. It’s also a great way to work on your elevator pitch, as you’ll have to use your own in the conversation.

Understand Your Customer

Without understanding who your customer is and what their needs are, you will have a tougher time closing a deal. You will need to be able to adapt to what is plaguing them that your services can solve. 

As a salesperson, research is your best friend. Always spend time getting to know who you’re talking to, the company they represent, their key pain points and the solutions they are looking for. 

The internet will help you with this, most likely. You can also use questionnaires and surveys to get to know interested or existing customers needs better. Instagram and Facebook both have the ability to use polls to get opinions from your followers. 

Be Authentic in Your Sales Process

A shift is beginning to happen when it comes to sales strategies. Gimmicky or “sale-sy” tactics are becoming more frowned upon to customers. The stereotypical charming yet pushy salesperson is starting to put people off and make them put their guard up. This is not how you want your sales process to come across. 

Instead, focus on building rapport and genuinely getting to know your client. You want to build trust and relationships with your clients. This will allow you and your customers to have a smoother and more authentic experience.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. As markets continue to become more saturated, people buy from people. Trust can get you just as far as a great product. 

Hire a Coach

Just like any skills, sales skills can be developed and improved upon with strategy and practice. If you struggle with sales, you may want to look into hiring a sales coach. A coach will give you strategies, keep you accountable and motivate you to keep working on your skills.

As a sales strategist myself, I’ve worked with clients who need to refine their skills, who need more confidence and who despise selling entirely. Having a low skill set does not mean that you cannot master sales. You just need to spend more time developing your sales abilities.

Use these tips to help you improve and ultimately master your sales skills. We need more women, especially women of color, to continue to climb the ladder and be the CEOs that guide our growth overall.