Today, our guest, Cynthia Barnes, is a B2B, women sales coach. She’s back here on the show today to talk about a struggle she face, how she overcame it, and the results she got.
Cynthia Barnes is a Metro Detroit-based executive sales and leadership coach and thought leader. As a visionary and intense leader of highly successful sales teams, Cynthia has learned that the key to reaching the Top 1% is a high level of precision combined with relentless execution.
Cynthia is Founder and CEO of Barnes Sales Institute, an executive sales coaching firm for women sales professionals and the driving force behind the National Association of Women Sales Professionals— a national sales organization that provides professional development and advocates for the advancement of women sales professionals.
Cynthia’s biggest sales struggle:
Strategies Cynthia Did to Overcome Her Struggles:
Focusing on the Right People:
Do what you do and do it really well. Be crystal clear on your messaging, who you are, what you serve, and who you serve. Then the right people will come to you.
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Cynthia Barnes shares her insights into the current sales training system and why you need to transform the way we do sales training, women in particular. Cynthia is a keynote speaker and sales trainer, showing women sales professionals how to influence decision makers before they miss out on a big opportunity.
At Barnes Sales Institute, they focus on women-centric sales training. Cynthia is also the Founder of the National Association of Women Sales Professionals, also known as Women Who Sell, a global organization that seeks to empower women sales professionals in male-dominated industries to give them the voice, to be heard, so they can stand up and be confident.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with Cynthia:
Lessons from Cynthia’s uncoolest sales experience when she was the customer:
Traditional sales programs:
Importance of Women in a Salesforce
Women control over 51% of the wealth and influence over 71% of the household spending. So it makes sense to have women salespeople in your organization. The alpha male approach doesn’t work for everybody.
Does the gender of the seller have an effect on the buyer?
Women as Natural Networkers and Relationship Builders
How you can transform into a women-centric sales training:
How to get access to women-centric sales training:
Connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn and she can give you access to a pilot program for online training they’re rolling out.
Cynthia’s Major Takeaways:
You are you and you are okay. Everything you do is great. You have to have that internal confidence. Your competence is going to fuel your confidence. So become an expert in what you’re doing.
Surround yourself (or get a mentor) with women sales professionals making it happen. (Join the National Association of Women Sales Professionals at https://womenwhosell.co)
For male sales leaders:
Create that safe environment. Let your female sales employees know that you can help them. Be humble enough to say to women reps to let you know if you can’t get them to where you want them to go so you can bring in somebody who can.
Connect with Cynthia Barnes on LinkedIn or give her a call at 313-586-SELL.
Read Cynthia’s blogpost on Transforming Sales Training: The Case for Women-Centric Sales Training
The Experience Economy by Jason Pine II and James H. Gilmore
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According to recent data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 48.4 percent of retail salespersons. Yet, despite this nearly equal representation, there is a distinct lack of women-centric sales training available (statistics up-to-date as of July 18, 2017).
You might assume that most sales training is gender-neutral, but that’s not true — traditional sales training was written for men, by men, at a time when men completely dominated sales roles. Most sales training has hardly changed in the last 40 years, failing to take into account the significant shift in demographics.
Not only do these training programs neglect to consider the unique characteristics, nuances, and strengths of saleswomen, but they also fall short in addressing areas where women are more likely to struggle than men.
With almost half of salespersons being female, it is not unfair to say that most current sales training is unfit for purpose. The great thing about sales is that it is a skill that makes the difference, not gender – but that doesn’t mean men and women have the same requirements for training. Businesses that don’t recognize this fact risk failing half their workforce and missing out on valuable income.
The Consumer Economy Is Female
There is a strong financial case for women-centric sales training. Statistically, women are more powerful than men in deciding where money is spent and what purchases are made. The BMO Wealth Institute reports that women control 51 percent of the wealth, and their influence over spending outstrips this — women report having control or influence over 71 percent of household spending, and some experts put this number closer to 80 percent.
This huge influence means that it is essential for businesses to hire, train and retain female sales staff who naturally better understand how women like to shop, and how to approach them and build relationships.
Building Upon Natural Strengths
If you’ve ever been to sales training, you’ve probably come across a teaching and thought “isn’t that obvious?” Typical sales training delivers a basic grounding in many areas for which women already have natural talents. These areas of strength, such as intuition, patience, and relationship building, are skills that may not come naturally to many men.
Spending time training salespeople in skills they have already grasped is not only a waste of time, but it is also a lost opportunity. Women-centric sales training gives businesses the opportunity to offer more advanced training in areas at which women already excel, building upon their existing strengths to take them to the next level.
Women Are Natural Networkers and Relationship Builders
For many customers of both genders, sales is an ongoing relationship rather than a one-off transaction. Women have strong emotional intelligence and excellent listening skills, both of which make them natural networkers and fantastic at building strong relationships with potential clients.
In particular, women shine when the sales cycle is slow enough to build up a strong relationship with the client. Women-centric sales training can help your saleswomen build upon their natural relational talents and apply them more effectively to the sales environment.
Traditional Training Can Play Down Valuable Strengths
One of the biggest problems with male-dominated sales training is that there is a focus on one particular sales strategy. Instead of trying to make every salesperson the same, businesses must take into account that salespeople of different genders (as well as cultural backgrounds, ages, and other characteristics) have different strengths — and that’s a good thing.
In many male-dominated industries, a woman salesperson has a distinct advantage. Not only does she stand out, but she brings a fresh approach that customers love. This advantage is lost when businesses try to train every employee to act like a traditional “alpha male” salesperson. There’s still room for that style of salesmanship, but many customers prefer a quieter, less intrusive approach, and your women salespeople can provide that.
Working on Weaknesses
Training designed for males does not address areas where women are (on average) weaker than men. Unless the women in your organization are catered to effectively, it is unlikely they’ll be able to reach their potential, and your business will miss out on the opportunity to profit from a top salesperson.
Women are less likely to put themselves forward for a promotion, pay increase or new opportunity. This has nothing to do with ability — men are simply more willing to pursue advancement, even when they might not be ready for it. In the case of a promotion, for example, a woman is more apt to wait until she is confident that she completely meets the criteria before speaking to the manager. Men, on the other hand, will often put themselves forward when they meet just 60 percent of the criteria.
Women-centric sales training can address this, helping women to see that by waiting to speak up, they are hurting both the business and their own careers. Businesses need confident, authentic women who will add their voice to the discussion.
This is also important when closing a sale; building relationships are important, but if you can’t give the customer a decision to make, your sales performance will be poor.
Dialing Down Perfectionism
Many women are perfectionists, and as a result, they often play it safe. No-one likes to be embarrassed or make a mistake, but playing it safe doesn’t make sales. Men are naturally more aggressive and more likely to take risks. In many cases, this alone will clinch them the sale.
With appropriate training, women can learn to take risks by first starting to do so in a safe environment. The results can be spectacular — your saleswomen will build strong relationships and simultaneously seek the sale.
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