As an industry driven by quotas and performance, sales should stand out in the midst of the current women’s movement as an industry that provides equal opportunity for everyone. If you can hit your numbers, you should be able to have a successful sales career, regardless of gender.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Although women represent roughly half of the sales workforce, they are notably absent in leadership positions. That means the sales profession isn’t living up to its potential as a great equalizer.
As Miller Heiman Group evolves as a company, we’re investing significantly in the transformation of our products and solutions, the reinvention of our core sales methodology, and the development of new technology. With those changes, the executive team leading us into the future has also evolved in a way that moves the industry forward.
We recently appointed three female executives to our C-suite, breaking the sales glass ceiling in a traditionally male-dominated industry. This isn’t about checking boxes for diversity; it’s about creating a stronger, more competitive business today and driving innovation for the future of the sales industry tomorrow.
Hiring Women Is Smart Business
Historically, sales has been a profession made up mostly of men. But more and more women have entered the salesforce in recent years. In 2016, women accounted for nearly half (49%) of the sales workforce.
The trend toward more gender-diverse sales teams isn’t just an ethical imperative. We’re seeing more and more evidence that it’s also a business imperative – companies that prioritize gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to financially outperform their competitors.
Unfortunately, female sales professionals don’t enjoy the same representation further up the corporate ladder. As the level of seniority increases, the percentage of women in leadership roles decreases, indicating a severe lack of leadership opportunities for female sales professionals. For example, LinkedIn found that just 21 percent of female sales professionals holds a title of vice president, which is even lower than the 26 percent of female vice presidents across all professional functions.
Eliminating the glass ceiling in sales leadership is the right thing to do; however, the inclusion of a higher percentage of women across all leadership levels is also smart business. Harvard Business Review research found that according to their peers, direct reports and managers, women are viewed as more effective leaders than their male counterparts. At the executive level, 67.7% of female leaders are considered to be effective leaders compared to 57.7% of male leaders.
Not surprisingly, female-led teams are also more gender-diverse than male-led teams. So, for organizations interested in the benefits of a diverse sales workforce, hiring women in leadership positions isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential.
Gender Diversity in the Miller Heiman Group C-Suite
At Miller Heiman Group, we’re charting a new course for sales and service organizations. It’s a transformative time in our industry, and we’re eager to tap into the insights and perspectives of women leaders.
To achieve change, we’ve stacked our C-suite and leadership team with some of the best leaders in the business, including three new female executives in the CMO, CRO and CPO roles over the past year:
- Aimee Schuster, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – Aimee brings two decades of marketing experience to Miller Heiman Group. We’re counting on her to build a world-class marketing program in support of our aggressive transformation strategy.
- Allen Mueller, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) – After a successful tenure as executive director, North America, Allen was promoted into the CRO role at Miller Heiman Group. We look to Allen for executive leadership for our global growth strategy.
- Dana Hamerschlag, Chief Product Officer (CPO) – With a track record of successfully launching innovative learning solutions, Dana is the driving force behind Miller Heiman Group’s global product strategy and roadmap.
- Seleste Lunford, Managing Director of CSO Insights – A 17-year company veteran, Seleste leads Miller Heiman Group’s research arm. Seleste’s mission includes the development of research on the performance and productivity of complex B2B sales.
Together with the rest of the Miller Heiman Group executive team, these women are reinventing our industry and pioneering a more digitally intelligent sales methodology. But they’re not alone. Going forward, we expect to see even more women in the C-suites of sales organizations because success in our industry hinges on the ability to hire the most talented sales executives.
And increasingly, that will mean elevating more women to top sales leadership positions.