On the heels of the interesting comment conversation that followed by my recent Classic post on gender differences in response to rewards, where I was quick to footnote that the research and its conclusion as not applicable to sales compensation, I stumbled into this study. Naturally, I had to share it with you here. I don't mean to continue diving too deeply down the rabbit hold on gender differences - but I did think this an interesting bookend to that conversation.
The original intent of the study, The Similarities and Differences Between Men and Women in Sales by Steve W. Martin, a sales linguistics expert who gathered data via an extensive survey from over 1,000 sales professionals, was to understand the specific traits, actions and habits associated with sales performance. It was not designed to compare male and female sales pros. Rather, the gender differences jumped out as the data was analyzed, prompting the development of this research report.
Here are a few interesting findings (there are many others as well, if you're willing to dig into the 50 page report).
Why I'm in Sales
While the motivations that lead to a career in sales probably vary as widely as the people themselves, the author notes that the answers to a question about the fundamental reason they are in sales generally fall into four categories. Below we see where the responses women and men gave differ. Men are more likely than women to select "the harder I work the more money I make" and women more likely than men to state that the career choice "just happened." This may jive somewhat with the findings highlighted in my earlier post, that men are more likely to pursue a role with pay based on competition (hopefully, in the case of sales, it's inter-company rather than intra-company).
How Important Money Is To Me
Whether pay explicitly led them to a career in sales or not, the chart below shows - surprise surprise, right? - that the majority of male and female sales pros are motivated by money. 62% of men and 54% of women agreed with the statement “Money is extremely important to me and how I measure my personal success." Only 14% of men and 15% of women disagreed. So while there is a small observable difference in "money importance" between the genders, it is less significant than their motivation to get into sales (above) might suggest.
The Difference a Mentor Makes
This is the one I really found interesting - the difference that having had a mentor makes to actual sales performance, as measured by previous year's performance against quota. Women who've had the benefit of mentorship significantly outperformed their no-mentor female peers - a finding that was not nearly as striking for men.
Some thought provoking takeaways for sales recruiting, retention, development, performance management and role definition here - less so (to my thinking) for sales rewards. But still.
What say you?
Ann Bares is the Editor of Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Forceand Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting services to a wide range of client organizations. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and enjoys reading in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons image "handshake" by iconoclast020