Women in Sales and the Shift Towards Customer Success

Richard West B2B Sales & Marketing

It has always been generally understood that men and women bring different qualities and capabilities to the workplace.

However, recent research has begun to define exactly what those differences are.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of that research and explain how the skills that women tend to favour are becoming increasingly useful in the world of B2B sales.

We’ll also take a look at how certain changes to the business landscape will likely mean that these qualities will be in even more demand in the future, and how Red Flag Alert can help you adapt to this new world.

From Persuasion to Shaping Solutions

According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, consulting firm ZS analysed the performance of over 500 salespeople from a range of different industries for seven capabilities that differentiate high performers from average ones.

These seven capabilities were:

  • Analysing: understanding cause, effect and overall repercussions
  • Connecting: building networks of customers and team members
  • Collaborating: cooperating with others
  • Shaping solutions: adapting offers to customer needs
  • Influencing: shaping messages and style to maximise impact
  • Driving: achieving outcomes by applying structure and planning
  • Improving: always looking for ways to do things better; trying new things

It was found that high-performing women tended to favour connecting, shaping solutions and collaborating, while their male counterparts focused more on improving and driving outcomes.

The article points out that digital technologies can do a lot of the sales ‘groundwork’ and so salespeople are increasingly expected to provide added value.

This requires them to be able to collaborate with customers and help them shape solutions – characteristics that are more common in high-performing women.

In fact, these capabilities are now more important than traditional persuasion-based skills like influencing and driving outcomes.

Customer Success Managers: The Future of Sales

These findings are interesting enough on their own. However, they are set to become more relevant in the near future.

The article points out that Covid-19 has forced businesses to conduct even more sales remotely, including over video calls, and that this evolving environment plays to women’s strengths.

The gradual shift in technology sales away from single purchase transactions and towards SaaS products or cloud-based services that require subscriptions or regular purchases is an excellent example of this.

In these relationships, buyers increase the value that they get from the product or service over time and gradually increase the amount they spend with the provider.

With competition among such services getting fiercer, there is a growing emphasis on the importance of Customer Success Managers (CSMs) – these are salespeople who help customers to realise the value of their product or service across its lifetime.

According to the research, this more collaborative, connecting and solution-shaping role once again plays to the strengths of women. It can be a defining factor in the success of SaaS and cloud-based providers.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, to learn that between 50% and 70% of these roles are held by women in these sectors, compared to just 25% in traditional tech sales.

Shape Solutions with Red Flag Alert

This research tells us that, regardless of gender, the ability for sales teams to collaborate with customers on their requirements and shape solutions to their unique situation is vital.

More than ever, customers want to work with salespeople who understand their business and the challenges it faces from the outset, rather than those who simply try to sell a static product.

Red Flag Alert helps you to understand your customers’ businesses by providing detailed real-time data on everything from their financial health to key decision-makers at the organisation.

Our data covers every business in the UK and receives 180,000 updates every day.

Not only this, but your team can set up sales triggers to alert you to changes in a customer’s situation that indicate when they might require additional products or services.

This allows your team to speak to the customer the moment that they are ready to buy, armed with an understanding of their situation and with a solution shaped to their needs.

The most important thing is that the sales team has an advantage – its CSM understands the customer’s situation in real time, allowing them to shape a bespoke solution.

For a free consultation about how Red Flag Alert can help improve your sales, get in touch with Richard West at richard.west@redflagalert.com or on 0344 412 6699.

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Richard West CRO

Richard is an experienced SaaS leader, since joining Red Flag Alert in 2013 he has overseen a ten-fold increase in revenue.