Fixing Under Representation of Women in Sales

Written by Savannah Howard

Originally from Wellington, Florida, Savannah is a member of an outsourced sales team at The Selling Factory. Beyond her work as a sales development representative, she is a fourth-year at the University of Florida pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a concentration in the French language.

Photo by Content Pixie from Pexels

The sales industry is arguably one of the largest, most competitive fields in the professional game. This competitiveness can certainly have an influence on an individual’s determination to succeed when driven by factors such as commission, recognition from co-workers and workplace executives, and even one’s own gratification.

Whatever the incentive may be to close sales deals, becoming successful in sales is difficult in itself and can be extremely demanding. Being in sales, however, can be even more challenging for women than it is for their male colleagues; and not because women are any less qualified.

What Is the Current Environment for Women in Sales

In a 2017 study conducted by Gartner (formerly CEB), it was found that the sales sector has the second-largest gender pay inequality in the United States, as only 19% of leadership roles in sales are filled by women. The same study also found that companies who have more diversity and inclusion in the workplace actually outperform their counterparts. If there is evidence for development and growth, why are there still so many disparities between men and women in sales?

The first and most obvious reason is the preconceived workplace biases against women. In a Lucidchart study of just over 500 sales professionals, the two most prevalent biases women experience are 1. Underestimating their knowledge and 2. Being seen as too weak. Studies show quite the opposite of these workplace biases in that women actually close deals 11% more often than men do. Additionally, women stay in sales roles longer than men do, yet women are paid significantly (about $0.20 to the dollar) less than men. 

The same study from Lucidchart found that men made 58% more than women on average when it comes to commission, with women earning 23% less than men when combining salary and commission. Could this commission gap be due to the fact that women are less likely than men to negotiate their pay compensation? Statistics say no. On average, women are only about 6% less likely than men to negotiate their salary and commission rates. 

While this may play a small role in gender pay inequality, studies show that the underlying problem here is workplace bias and therefore lack of growth opportunities for women. A study from the Lean In foundation found that only one in 10 senior executives is female; 50% of men say that’s good enough.

Despite the reality of women in sales, they bring excellent sales skills to the table, especially when it comes to social selling, listening to customers’ ever changing needs, relating to their pain points, and building meaningful relationships. Buyers expect this customized approach and ultimately want to feel more in control of the sales process. So what can your team do to create a more welcoming environment for women in sales? 

Steps to Fix Gender Pay Inequality

  1. Ask yourself if your current practices are equitable: To solve a problem, you first must recognize that one exists. Ask yourself, does my team honestly put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of its operations? For The Selling Factory, it became evident that men were much more likely than women to take on cold calling positions compared to women (about 75% men and 25% women).

  2. Conduct an audit of your team demographics: To further investigate this pattern, you should take an in-depth “look under the hood” and conduct an audit of your team’s diversity and pay rates. At TSF, cold calling roles offered higher pay per hour compared to data collection and research roles, which put men (on average) at earning a dollar more per hour than women.

  3. Fix the inequity found in the audit: Based on the insights found in the audit, you should implement methods that create equitable opportunities for employees to thrive in their roles. To move away from the gender pay inequality, The Selling Factory implemented a new payroll system in which pay was based on how long you’ve worked for the company, not your role on a particular campaign. 

  4. Hire more intentionally: Your sales team should not only make an effort to eliminate the gender pay inequity, but also make our sales teams more diverse. Rather than referring friends or contacts for interviews, applications for your sales team should be available online in many different spaces with the goal of creating more diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Last year, The Selling Factory was composed of 63% males and 37% females, whereas today the sales team is made up of 61% women and 39% men. One key factor in this change was tapping into different spaces and refining the hiring process.

Creating Safe and Inclusive Sales Environments

After nearly two years in the sales industry, I’m pleased to say that I have borne witness to some important changes in my own workplace. These changes were meant to improve the work experience for women in sales and improve functions for overall development and growth. Most importantly, such a change was only able to be accomplished after taking an in-depth look at the make-up of our sales team through audits, and our executives being honest enough with themselves to spot the problems. 

While this conversion is heavily focused on the inequities of men and women, it would be remiss to not acknowledge the absolute gender binary that society promotes. Recognizing the fluidity of gender will help create an environment for employees that awards based on individual strengths rather than biases. This understanding can not only allow your employees to feel safer and better understood, but also remove the gender inequities that exist in the workplace. 

Changes like these are pertinent to creating a safe workspace where everyone feels included and has their voices heard. To anyone in sales (or any field of work for that matter), I ask you this: What has your company done to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in the workplace? How are these methods at the forefront of your business’s development and growth? Asking yourself these questions may be difficult, and you may not like the answer, but it must be done.

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.