5 tips for recruiting more women in sales

Posted October 16, 2019

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By Brooke Bachesta

SDR Manager at Outreach

According to a recent study, gender diversity in the workforce can lead to more innovative and productive companies, when measuring their market value and revenue. But there’s a catch: the companies have to believe and genuinely champion that gender diversity is important, and not merely a line item on their job listings page.

So how do great companies bring more women into their companies, including sales organizations? After all, women--inclusive of all individuals who identify as women--only make up 39% of sales professionals, yet have been shown to close more deals than men.

Here are 5 tips on ways you can recruit and retain more women and spark workforce diversity at your own company.

Tip #1: Use gender neutral, growth-mindset language in your job descriptions.

This goes beyond not saying “salesman” or using he/him when asking the reader to envision themselves working at your company. To encourage a gender diverse applicant pool, companies should avoid words that inadvertently “skew your talent pool” toward men. In an article by Textio, even seemingly neutral words like exhaustive, enforcement, and fearless can create gender bias. Instead, use language that emphasizes a growth mindset, where applicants are encouraged to envision growing and learning at your company, rather than having certain traits, or a fixed mindset at the time of applying. You’ll encourage a wider diversity of applicants, and are more likely to fill the job faster too.

According to Textio, “Jobs with a high density of fixed mindset language fill 11 times more slowly.”

Tip #2: Use assessments to be data driven.

Assessments are meant to look for behavioral characteristics that may not be evident in their resume or previous work history. Assessments help evaluate candidates for things like coachability, resourcefulness, and commitment, which is often hard to do with just a first pass of a resume or phone screen. Sending assessments to a wide array of candidates helps to combat your own biases by leveling the playing field. Outreach uses an assessment through ScoreMoreSales. The assessment is sent over to candidates after we review their resume (our first step). We then review their assessment and if they pass our criteria, they talk to our recruiting team for a phone screen and hopefully, then an onsite interview.

Tip #3: Involve women in your interview loops and as hiring managers.

Involve women in your interview loops for all candidates to encourage multiple and diverse perspectives about each candidate’s fit and potential. This will ensure that the assessments of each candidate are from staff members who have different lived experiences and backgrounds, and go beyond to a culture and core values fit. In turn, you’ll demonstrate to your candidates that you “walk the walk” and prioritize not just hiring but retention and career development.

Tip #4: Create a sense of community within your organization.

As sales focuses on the customer experience post-sale, be sure that your company is also focused on the woman’s experience post-hire. Be sure to extend introductions and invitations to women’s and women-identifying groups or organizations at your company. Outreach has our Gals and SALs program, which aims to foster career development, internal mentorship, and connections across teams for women at Outreach. We recently celebrated the program’s one-year anniversary, and if you want to know how to start your own Gals and SALs program, I have three easy tips.

Tip #5: Have clear and equitable promotion and growth paths for women.

Make sure you extend the growth mindset to carving out career and promotion paths for women. This doesn’t just mean giving SDRs a clear path to growing into AEs--consider pathways that leverage their institutional knowledge and utilize it in roles like account management, client engagement, project management, and leadership. Having a diverse set of career paths will encourage a diverse pool of SDR candidates. Not everyone wants to be a “closer” post SDR life -- be sure to have an open dialogue around what type of sales they may be interested in and empower them to pursue those roles throughout their time as an SDR. While we’ve got a long way to go (after all, only 21% of Vice Presidents in Sales are women), we hope these 5 tips might help your company increase diversity of thought and experience across teams.


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