Perception vs Reality: Men and Women In Sales

Parth Mukherjee is a champion for having more women in sales positions. As a Conversation Intelligence platform, Chorus stores and analyzes millions of sales calls every year. With all of that data at our fingertips, people like to ask, "Are male or female sales reps better? What do they do differently?"

Unfortunately, these types of questions are the result of some poorly crafted content available online; some of which even goes as far as to say that women do everything “wrong” in a sales interaction, yet somehow manage to win more deals.

The data used as support in these articles suggests that female sales reps listen less, talk more and interrupt prospects much more often than their male counterparts. And yet, they seem to win more deals—these articles suggest. But, is this true? The Chorus team decided to dig into this data set as well to determine fact from fiction.

By looking at more than 100,000 sales calls from our fastest-growing customers, we set out to solidify our belief that women belong in the world of sales. Targeting the frequently asked questions, are men better at selling? And, do men and women sell differently?

We’re settling the debate once and for all.

The Sales Rep Demographic

Only 32% of sales reps within the dataset analyzed were women, meaning an overwhelming two-thirds were men. As an industry, we need to uncover why this staggering difference is present, but that’s a conversation for another time.  

After separating the sales reps by male vs female, we identified the average win rate for all sales reps within these companies, followed by singling out the reps with above average win rates. Can you guess what we found? While they only make up a third of all sales reps, 40 percent of the top sales reps were women.

Difference in Selling

Some may assume selling style is an innate approach. Yet, of the frequently measured metrics from sales interactions, talk-listen ratio, number of engaging questions asked and longest monologue, our findings didn’t support a significant gender-based difference.

Contradictory to some articles you’ll see, men and women don’t differ at all in their talk-listen ratio—and, while women ask an average of twelve questions compared to men’s average of fifteen and have a shorter monologue average of 84 seconds whereas men have a 97-second average, these differences aren’t significant enough to influence win rates.

Winning More Deals

So, who wins more deals? From our findings, women.

Compared to the 24% average win rate for men, women sales reps have an average win rate of 33% — and, closing one out of every three deals is a great win rate for just about every business. Not to mention, the average deal size for female sellers is $5K higher than males. A difference that can be pretty meaningful, depending on your organization’s ACV.
While others might think the way women are selling is wrong, our findings prove they’re definitely doing something right. A higher win rate and larger deal size for female sales reps leave everyone wondering, what’s the secret to their success? Shorter monologues and fewer questions might mean women are able to engage the prospect much better than men (without making them feel like they’re being interrogated). It may also be that only the best of the best female reps make it in this career, which seems to hire much fewer of their gender.

The Key to Seeing Results

The sales industry has the second-largest gender equality gap in America, with women severely underrepresented in sales positions. Because sales is still a male-dominated world, it pushes women to perfect their skills and work harder in order to win deals, get promoted and, sometimes, just keep their position. And, although top conversation metrics prove women’s selling style isn’t drastically different than their male counterparts, we can’t deny they tend to see better results.

It’s awesome that we’re bringing these trends and challenges to the surface and taking steps to change the make of the sales industry. So, when you come across an article suggesting women break rules of selling and yet magically win more, remember data shows that female sales reps are a huge asset. But, also remember that the ability to sell doesn’t rely on gender—being a better sales rep starts with building a relationship with your prospects and developing a deeper understanding of their challenges. Which is something both men and women are capable of doing.

Parth Mukherjee is a seasoned technology marketer with a background in selling to enterprises, mid-market, SMB-sized companies as well as consumers. He currently heads the Product Marketing function at Chorus and leads their product positioning, content marketing, product evangelism, and go-to-market efforts.