We’re not here to tackle the ethics or history of how the sales profession has evolved. In fact, there’s a strong likelihood that if you’re reading this article, you are a white male. Like most people, you probably consciously or subconsciously prefer other people who are most like you. It’s human nature.
However, investing in the diversity of your sales team benefits both morale and overall performance. The following are three objective reasons to build a more diverse sales team.
Economically Speaking, It’s a Great Time to Expand Your Team
According to recent reports from the U.S. Labor Department, unemployment is at its lowest levels since the Great Recession.
As lower unemployment rates push wages up, more Americans will join or rejoin the workforce. Many others will pursue higher education to level up in their careers. As the New York Times stated, “Hiring is up. Wages are up. The total number of workers and job searchers is up.”
In other words, now is the ideal time for leaders to focus on building more diverse teams within their sales organizations.
Both Buyers and Sellers Favor More Diversity
A recent SalesLoft survey looked at diversity in the sales profession. It uncovered a near-unanimous desire among sales professionals and, most crucially, buyers for a more representative workforce. They prefer an environment more inclusive of women, LGBTQ people, people of different races and cultures, and people from different generations.
- 91 percent would like to see more women in sales
- 91 percent would like to see increased racial diversity
- 88 percent would like to see greater generational diversity
- 74 percent of salespeople and 69 percent of buyers would like to see more LGBTQ representation
Medly CMO Chirag Kulkarni wrote in a recent Entrepreneur article, “Employers who focus on inclusion have a better shot at recruiting and retaining a diverse employee base. Reaching gender parity, for example, is not done without intentional effort. But that effort will pay off.”
Diversity Will Make Your Team Stronger
Perhaps most importantly, a lack of diversity can be a serious handicap to your employee satisfaction and your bottom line.
According to a study published in Harvard Business Review, companies with both “inherent” and “acquired” diversity out-innovate and outperform other companies. Employees at these companies are 45 percent more likely to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year. They are 70 percent more likely to indicate that the firm captured a new market.
Gender diversity in business has been a prominent topic recently. Rakhi Voria, Chief of Staff to Microsoft CVP of Inside Sales, reports in a recent Forbes article that women are 5 percent more likely than men to close a sales deal. In fact, companies with greater gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to see higher profits.
Voria also cites an analysis by Professor Joel Le Bon of The University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business Sales Excellence Institute. He tracked 989 students’ sales performance across seven years and discovered that “there were 62.5 percent more female top performers than male top performers, [and] the female top performers outperformed the male top performers by 73.9 percent.”
Of course, as buyers become more diverse, diverse sales teams will be better able to connect with them. According to the Harvard Review study mentioned above, a sales team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is “152 percent likelier than another team to understand that client.”
Last but not least, a Deloitte study found that more diverse workplaces enjoy greater employee engagement — among all employees.
The bottom line is that a diverse sales force is stronger and more dynamic, engaged and effective. In this competitive market, it’s an edge well worth the investment.