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.

Are You Waiting With The Right Attitude?

As we’re all quarantined and anticipating the day when things get back to normal, I want to give a message of encouragement on how to manage your energy during this time.

Everyone is waiting for something. No matter how confident, powerful, and in-demand a person can be “online,” there is something “offline” in their heart that they desire and/or God has promised that only the Lord himself can bring to life. 

Don’t let these energy healers and/or spiritual advisors pump up your ego saying, “You are God and 100% in control of every aspect of your life.” We are made in HIS IMAGE, but we are NOT God himself. 

Sure, there is a lot we can do because God himself gave us free will. We can master self-control to lose weight and break bad habits. We can increase our productivity in business for more sales/visibility. We can put in work in our marriage for better communication. But, there are just some things ONLY the Lord can do. 

For example, He Brings life into this world and He takes life out of this world. The Lord Heals diseases. Mend broken relationships when you do your part and etc.

Some of you are waiting on the Lord for a documented miracle in your home, health, or wealth. You have done everything in your power to change the situation. You’ve hired every expert, downloaded every resource, called on friends, and even prayed about it to the Lord with little or no results. You may feel hopeless and frustrated. But today, I want to encourage you. All because you are waiting on something doesn’t mean you are cursed and that you have done something wrong. In fact, you may be waiting on that thing because you have done all the things right. HE CHOSE YOU to be the example of that documented miracle. We are in a season where God wants ALL credit. So, he have chosen a few of you who have exhausted all avenues and forced you to surrender to him for the promise (Wealth, Health, or Relationship) in order for him to get ALL the glory when he brings it to life. 

We live in a culture where convenience is king. If It isn’t convenient, we don’t want anything to do with it. We want music on-demand. Movies on-demand. Relationships on-demand. Most People crumble during a waiting period. We get impatient with traffic. We get impatient with kids. We get impatient with clients. We get impatient with business sales. We, as a society, can barely wait on food to heat up in the microwave. Let alone wait on God to perform a documented miracle. 

Patience is not easy and requires 100% submission. The word “submission” already made some of you cringe. Despite all the inner conflict going on in your head while waiting for a promise you are also combating societal pressures from your family, peers, and social media.

As I have been developing my Patience muscles with a promise God gave me 5 years years ago, he gave me this word: “While you’re waiting on God do what waiters do: SERVE.”

While you are waiting on your miracle, who can you serve? While you are waiting, what attitude can you display? 

Remember, there are some promises where the only payment required is PATIENCE. It’s not going to be your money, hustle, tenacity, or charisma. 

In order to receive THAT promise, you must obtain one of the most challenging gifts of the spirit: PATIENCE 

PATIENCE is one of the greatest gifts God can give to you! Instead of repelling it, receive it with open arms and watch God fulfill those deepest desires in your heart.

Here is a 5 minute video reference from Pastor Mike Todd: https://youtu.be/0xwquawBXtU

What are you doing in your waiting period?

Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?

You’ve been inspired by so many influencers online and the amount of money they have earned operating in their gifts. But for some reason, you’re not earning the money you desire despite being on this journey for a while. You’ve been consistently showing up online, investing in mentorship/courses, and have not secured ONE client. 

At this point, you are frustrated and confused about what to do next. Have you ever thought about the fact that you may not be cut out for the entrepreneurial journey? 

Coming to this realization can be difficult. Here’s how you can access if entrepreneurship may not be for you:

You hate being on the forefront or center of attention – In order to build an authentic business, you must show up. You have to be present in your business. For your clients, in your marketing and for your brand.

You don’t want to sell your programs/services – Without sales, your business is a hobby. If you’re spending money on course and coaching, you have an expensive hobby. You must be able to make sales to be an entrepreneur. 

You are afraid of taking risks/chances – Any entrepreneur will tell you that starting a business is a huge risk. Failure is a real option. But, you must be willing to take the risk if you want to get to your reward of freedom and more income.

You don’t want to serve without an invoice attached  – Building relationships is key as you build your business. This may require you to provide free services, beta programs to obtain market research, and strategic partnerships with like-minded consultants. As you grow, these relationships will become beneficial.

You don’t want to work – When building a business, you can easily invest 20 hours a week or more when first getting started while working a 9-5. You may even spend 60+ hours after you become fully self-employed. If you’re not accustomed to working hard, entrepreneurship isn’t for you.

You’re not willing to be coached/mentored – A coach or a mentor will help you accelerate your business. You need to be able to take guidance or suggestion especially from those you admire in business. 

You’re Afraid to Fail – Failing is inevitable. You will have successes and failures throughout this journey. As an entrepreneur, you must learn to accept failure and learn from it. You cannot let failure stop you.

You have no money management skills – Cash flow will happen in your business, so you must understand how to manage money. If you struggle with managing your personal finances, it’s wise to meet with a financial advisor or coach to help you. You want a financially strong business.

You don’t know your strengths and weaknesses – You will have to learn your zone of genius as a business owner. Focus on what you’re good at first, improve on what you’re not and outsource when you’re bringing in business income. 

You suck at managing your time – Time is your most valuable asset. If you’re are all over the place with no structure, it will be difficult to grow. You need to allocate days in your schedule and set boundaries in your life.

If you agree with 6 or more of these statements, then full-time entrepreneurship may not be the appropriate path for you as a trailblazer. 

Don’t be discouraged, you may be able to use your gifting as a supporting agent for other entrepreneurs: For example, Oprah, Lisa Nichols, and Nicole Walters. These are Trailblazing Entrepreneurs who are always in need of supporting agents for their businesses. Working as a full-time entrepreneur as a trailblazer is NOT the only career path. There are many options for you to share your gift with the world. Start partnering with trailblazers. 

Don’t allow social media influencers to force you to feel any less about yourself because you don’t own a successful business. Success can be obtained in so many other ways in life.

If you can agree with 4 or less of these statements, then that means you are a trailblazer in the making! I highly recommend you secure mentorship in the areas you feel like you need the most support in to cultivate your skillset. As a sales coach, I help my clients build their sales skills, create a profit plan and create an irresistible marketing message.

Where do you need the most support in your business?

How to Achieve Your Best Sales Quarter Yet

As you approach the end of the quarter, its time to evaluate ways to increase your revenue. This is the time to reflect on what worked and didn’t work during the year. While you’re analyzing your own business, it can also be beneficial to look at other successful companies and what made them successful. 

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently posted they achieved their best quarterly sales results in six years, with sales up to 6% in the company’s third quarter. That comes on top of a better than 3% increase in same-store sales in the second quarter, executives noted. https://amp-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/4308285002

“We saw increases in both average ticket and transactions, as well as growth across each of our three primary categories of hardlines, apparel and footwear,” said Edward W. Stack, chairman and chief executive officer. “As we head into the holiday season, we remain very enthusiastic about our business.”

With Amazon dominating the retail online arena, this is an amazing progression for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

About one in every eight dollars spent at Dick’s comes from the online channel, according to the results the company supplied. And the percentage of online sales is rising steadily.

Over the past year, the company has taken over its web-based sales unit from a third party. Dick’s has invested in its online channel in addition to opening a fulfillment center in New York and California.

Here is how you can use Dicks’ model to achieve your best sales yet in your organization in 2020: 

Bundle Experiences & Service

Instead of focusing on a broad audience, it’s important to implement segmentation in your business model. People want to be heard and understood. Personalize your products/service exclusively for specific customers/clients needs. Bundle their needs with multiple products/services. People invest in convenience. How can you make your customer/client’s life easier? 

For example, during the month of November, a Sales/Marketing organization can offer sales page writing services for businesses to prepare for Black Friday Sales.

During the month of February, a home/garden store can offer Valentine’s Day themed baskets to give to their significant others.

A winery can offer themed experiences for “Date Nights” which includes education of wines around the world but also provides a relaxed environment for bonding.

Enhance User Experience 

Dick’s enhanced website functionality was a driving force behind their growth in online sales.

Simplicity always sells. How are you ensuring the user experience is a breeze for your customers/clients? 

According to Chartbeat, you have 15 seconds to get the attention of your client/customer before they leave your website. Once you have their attention, you have to either 1) provide them with exactly what they need at that moment, or 2) get them to continue to come back until they get what they need.

What systems do you have in place on your website to keep engaged and ready to click the Buy now button?

You can add Artificial Intelligence on websites which collect data on your users to provide a better experience for them each time they visit.  Artificially intelligent systems constantly work on the background of popular products and services such as Netflix, Amazon, and, naturally, Google. In the past few years, though, AI has paved its way deeper into marketing, helping brands to enhance every step of the customer journey. Moreover, tools previously available to enterprise-level companies have become affordable and accessible to medium- and small-sized businesses. (https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/08/marketers-use-artificial-intelligence/)

Expand Product/Service Options

Dick’s is receiving an improved merchandise assortment from Adidas and Nike. This will give their customers more options, access to their favorite products and, in turn, bring in more sales.

How are you creating options for your customers/clients? Do you have tiered services? Do you have a roadmap for your customers/clients to follow? Consider how what you are offering now can be expanded upon.

For example, a wedding planning service may also partner with other vendors to offer all-inclusive packages like photography or catering. A marketing company may offer a launch bundle where they write content for sales pages, social media and email all in one package.

Take a Stand on Controversial Issues

Robust sales follow the controversial decision to remove the hunting departments from 125 Dick’s Sporting Goods stores across the nation. The higher-margin apparel department replaced the legacy hunt category in many stores. Gun advocates threatened a nationwide boycott of the chain.

Stack, who has been running the company since inheriting it from his father in the 1980s, has taken a very public stand on strict controls for semiautomatic weapons that brought pointed criticism from gun rights advocates and praise from opponents.

Taking a stand on a controversial issue allows for your customer/client to connect with your organization’s brand or mission. Connectivity and Relatability are the biggest trend in Sales for 2020. People want to buy from companies that share their values.

Just like Dick’s Sporting Good, despite competition in your industry, you can achieve your highest sales quarter thus far. 

After you’ve included the tips above I do not doubt that you will achieve the highest yet for your company.

Is your Sales Process Inclusive?

Based on the Association of Professional Sales, diverse teams sales growth was on average 10 percent faster and profit margins were six percent higher than their competitors without diverse teams. 

“Making sure all our people’s voices are heard and valued not only helps attract and retain the best people but also helps us deliver better approaches for our clients and our organization,” says Michael Thompson, EY’s advisory accounts and business development leader EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India, Africa).

“People want to see themselves represented at companies they buy from, and a diverse sales force can more directly relate to the needs and wants of the people they are selling to,” says Stan Kimer, President of Total Engagement Consulting.

Although people are quick to assume that workplace diversity only means having more people of color in your office, the technical definition is hiring and retaining employees who represent a number of different characteristics and walks of life. Your organization can increase its diversity of gender, education, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, age, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs, among other traits.

To ensure you have an Inclusive Sales process you must have a diverse sales team. Here are 3 ways to ensure you have an Inclusive Sales Process: 

Eliminate Old Sales Stereotypes 

Sales is no longer a Male-driven industry. More women and even women of color are becoming Sales Experts/Sales People for organizations. A recent company reported 200% increase in revenue from previous year’s Q1 by changing the initial point of contact from male to females. These statistics provides the evidence that Sales have made huge strides. 

Be Open About Your Efforts and Outside Consulting 

“People of under-represented groups don’t expect perfection in efforts—we simply honor an organization’s willingness to ask for help and make steps to improve its inclusive culture,” says  Tash Jefferies, Co-Founder of Hirekind, which offers resources and education to promote diverse hiring in the tech industry.

Create Balance

It’s important to understand your customers/clients and understand who are you representing them in your organization. However, you also want to balance the strengths and weaknesses of your sales team. Conduct quarterly reviews of what is represented in your team vs. the market trends. 

What can you do today to make your sales process more diverse?

7 Reasons Why Introverts Make The Best Sales People (So Stop Using It As An Excuse To Play Small)

As an introvert, you may like to stay to yourself, you might become socially exhausted after events, or you have a small circle of friends.

There is a common misconception that introverts are shy, loner people who cannot excel in social situations. Let alone as a thriving entrepreneur.

I’m here to tell you that being an introvert, doesn’t mean you can’t be a dynamic salesperson.

But, why do more people think Extroverted people are the best salespeople?

The first impression of sales is that you must be outspoken, charismatic, and have a ton of friends. Yes, these things can be helpful in the sales process. However, they are not the only attributes that deem a closed sale or a dynamic salesperson.

Here are 7 reasons why introverts can make great salespeople:

1)      You Are Observant

This is one of the many amazing skillsets of a salesperson. Only 7% of your communication is the words you say. The other 93% of your communication is body language. Introverts tend to be more observant of body language, change of tone and other non-verbal cues. When you’re in a meeting with a potential client, this not only comes in handy but can help you understand your client better. Ultimately, leading to a better chance of closing a deal.

2)      You Have a Plan

While extroverts have a tendency to create a plan after they jump out of a plane. On the other hand, Introverts typically create a concrete plan and structure which is very helpful in the sales process. It creates consistency and provides security to their prospective clients/customers. The best salespeople has a proven system they use every single time to close sales.

3)      Listening is Your Middle Name

Selling is just as much listening as it is actually selling. As a salesperson, you need to understand the pain points, needs, and desires of your client. Introverts tend to excel at listening and being adaptable to the needs of their customers. You can use this to your advantage in any part of the sales process.

4)      You Value Deep Relationships

Introverts are not fond of having a list of acquaintances. Instead, they prefer to have deep relationships with other people. When you’re working a deal with a potential client, a genuine and deep relationship will take you further. Sales are all about trust and relationships. As an introvert, you have a leg up because you tend to create these relationships anyway.

5)   You Are a Realist

Extroverts have a tendency to lean into emotion during the sales process. However, introverts will lean into the reality of outcomes/products which provides more concrete disclaimers prior to a customer’s purchase. This approach minimizes refunds/dissatisfied customers. 

6) You are More Reserved

Extroverts tend to have big personalities and are not afraid to present themselves. While introverts are more conservative and quiet. New studies are showing that the outgoing, charming salesperson stereotype is actually starting to turn potential customers off. In fact, some people put their guard up when they approached by this type of salesperson. This shift in how people react to salespeople can be an advantage for introverts. Your reserved personality may be exactly what helps you relate to your potential client.

7) You Prefer to Not Talk at All

Back in the day, extroverts were often seen as the most qualified salespeople because of cold-calling. To engage in cold-calling, you need to be energetic and have refined social skills. Today, most decision-makers are making it harder to get them on a phone call. We rely more on nurturing and communicating through email than ever before. This is where introverts can measure up even when they are not as social or talkative as extroverts. 

How to Sell as an Introvert

To be effective, be sure to do your research and be prepared. This will boost your confidence and allow you to spend less time thinking of what to say. Instead, you can simply converse without any doubt.

Allow time for yourself to recharge. Networking events or back to back sales calls can be physically draining for introverts. Introverts tire easily from social activities which can make it difficult to interact. Make space for alone time in your schedule or try other traditional energy methods like coffee.

Lastly, don’t use being an introvert as an excuse to not try. There are many introverts who excel in business and entrepreneurship. The key is to understand yourself and develop your skills. 

As a whole, we tend to overlook the value that introverts bring to the table. Being introverted does not disqualify you from being an exceptional salesperson. In fact, you can be an equal asset to your extroverted counterparts if you hone your skills and embrace yourself as an introvert.