It’s no great revelation that women have exceptional selling instincts. In fact, Tom Peters has said that women make better salespeople than men. What we’ve found in coaching senior-level women, however, is a dichotomy of sorts: Women working in sales jobs are the best-in-class at what they do — and they love it. Yet, women in non-sales roles tell us they would prefer a trip to the dentist over selling.
Unfortunately, sales is just one of those things — like haggling and public speaking — that we avoid at our own peril. When we hear a woman say that sales is outside of her job description, we always beg to differ. Selling needs to be a part of every woman’s career tool kit. After all, sales experience feeds the types of line jobs — where individuals have P&L accountability — that are a pipeline to the C-suite. And that is where women are at a disadvantage.
According to McKinsey & Company, research of the largest US corporations shows that 62% of women are in staff jobs — positions that provide service and assistance but don’t directly generate revenue. These roles very rarely lead to major jobs in senior management. In contrast, 65% of men on executive committees hold line jobs. This helps explain why the number of women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies appears stuck around 3%.
Read more at Harvard Book Review.