Lori Richardson, Founder and CEO of Score More Sales, and President of Women Sales Pros, joins me again on this episode. In this episode, we unpack the power of diversity and inclusion and its relation to more sales.
The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.
Andy Paul 0:51
Hello and welcome to accelerate Joining me on the show today is Lori Richardson. Actually she’s back for the third appearance. Lori is the founder and CEO. Yeah, I hear you cheering in the background there. Founder and CEO Score more sales. Lori is also president of women’s sales pros. We’re going to talk some about women in sales today. Lori, welcome back to the Sales Enablement Podcast.
Lori Richardson 1:18
Andy. It’s a pleasure to be here. So three times.
Andy Paul 1:21
I’m excited. So I urge people to go back and listen to previous episodes. So you’re on episode 19 where we talk about the topic why there aren’t more women in sales which I forgot to touch on some today as well. And Episode 71 which was about if you want to accelerate your sales hire more women sales reps.
Lori Richardson 2:01
So I don’t just work with women. In fact, I’ve mostly worked with men, you know, most of the sales leaders and company leaders I’ve worked with over the years are in technology manufacturing distribution. And, and so that’s what we do most of the time. But I got a little sidetracked and I had this, this thing that just kept following me and it’s the fact that there are not a lot of women in sales and sales leadership. And so I’ve been working on that as kind of a pet project and turning it into speeches and now a book. So it’s part of what we do, but it all ties in to the fact that you know, lack of diversity or inclusion, you know, that’s a, it’s a leadership issue. So it all ties back to sales leadership.
Andy Paul 2:56
So, yeah, on the show, at least, we know we’ve talked before. But yeah, what’s new in terms of the state of women in sales? I mean, what’s happened over the last year since we last spoke, any developments that are noteworthy or any new research that’s come out, we should be talking about?
Lori Richardson 3:20
I think I have to wrack my brain a little bit, I would say generally, not a whole lot has happened. However, I have been working to study and understand more within the b2b landscape. And I personally did a lot of stuff. I put some panels together. for Salesforce, as well as the ISP. We talked a lot about women in sales, and I met a lot of CEOs who said, you know, we really want more women on our team. We’re having trouble finding them. And so we talked about some real tactical actionable things that they could do. And I think those are the things that, you know, people have been adopting are some more hands on ideas and less, let’s just come, you know, talk about it and actually do stuff. So that’s what I’m seeing some of that, but as you know, as a whole, we have a long way to go.
Andy Paul 4:25
Okay. Well, let’s talk about some of the specific tactics that you said you’d recommended to people. And I mean, your goal, your stated goal, is you’re trying to narrow this gap between how companies in a variety of industries say they can’t hire enough good sales reps, but on the other hand, there’s this huge shortage of women sales professionals. Right. And so is the issue that seems like it is women? Well, let me ask the question: is the issue that women can’t get hired into those roles, there just aren’t enough women to fill the available roles or both?
Lori Richardson 5:00
Well, there are a lot of women out there. In fact, we know that more than 50% of college graduates are women. So there are women out there. What they are is a more complex issue than a simple answer. It would be easy to say, Well, you know, the women just don’t want the jobs. I believe. The end. This is something I witnessed in the last year working with some of the panels and talking to a lot of the women leaders is that I don’t think a lot of young women know what a b2b sales position really is about. And I think that sales has a negative connotation to a lot of people, not just women, people in general, a lot of young people. And I also think that many companies have made some mistakes, either, you know, unintentionally, I don’t think they’re intentional. So I don’t mean both ways, but I think unintentionally, some of that atmosphere and some of the hiring strategies are not conducive to bringing women on.
Andy Paul 6:13
Okay. Well, sir, break that down just a little bit. So you talk about first of all, so women graduating from college, either sales isn’t on their radar or at all or if it is not really interested, just given sort of the general perception of sales that exists. So how do we combat that?
Lori Richardson 6:35
Well, I think what I’m doing is going to colleges and universities and speaking to young women about the career of b2b professional selling, and when you think about all the retail jobs that are out there, now a lot of women do retail jobs. I did it myself. I loved working in retail, but have you seen The Amazon store yet or have you heard about that?
Andy Paul 7:02
Yeah, yeah. saw the video.
Lori Richardson 7:04
Yeah. How many employees work in that store? Virtually none.
Andy Paul 7:08
Yeah. Was not visible to the customer. Right?
Lori Richardson 7:11
Yeah, so my idea is, you know, let’s get some of those people who are, you know, that have sales DNA for a b2b career and let’s you know encourage them to to look at b2b sales positions rather than retail. So that’s, that’s one of my thoughts. But I don’t think that women that are in college or even high school, I don’t think they really know what b2b sales careers are. And that was verified by a lot of the VP sales leaders that I spoke to who are women, about 75% of them had a close family member in sales or as an entrepreneur when they were young. So they saw it, they heard it, you know, they learned about it otherwise people don’t really know about sales. It’s a real job. It’s a real career.
Andy Paul 8:09
Well, I think that, that you could make the same statement that most young men, again, without a family influence probably realistically don’t know what, you know, b2b sales job entails. So I guess one thing that sort of thought this one minus Gosh, there are more than 50 serve colleges. Now they’re offering a sales degree of some sort or another, a number that’s growing, and there’s some major universities in there as well as, you know, state schools and so on. So, the question being is, I wonder if those programs How does the enrollment breakdown in terms of percent male versus female enrollment?
Lori Richardson 8:48
Yeah, I don’t know. The entire breakdown, but I do know of certain colleges and universities that have, you know, good math. 5050 or 6040? So that will definitely make an impact over time. But you know, that’s not very many. It’s a start and it’s a good start. St. Kate’s, in Minneapolis, it’s all women. It’s an all white school and they have a sales program. I know. Jill Conrath has been involved with that, huh? For time, so, yeah, its building. But I think the difference when you say that young men don’t necessarily know about sales, either, I agree with you, but a lot of companies have employees recruit their friends, you know, it’s a really good source of more, we’re hiring and that’s what that’s I think that’s one of the reasons it stays very young male also, because the, the young guys, they’re higher, you know, more, they tell their buddies about it, which is great, and they have this fun, you know, collegial work environment. So I think it all kind of comes together that way, perfect storm.
Andy Paul 10:03
And I wonder if one potential sign this entire solution was just the thought that just occurred to me is, would the field be helped by having more formal certification? Now sales? You know, there’s a lot of conversation about this. And, you know, there are some, you know, nonprofit organizations like the American Association inside sales, professional sales, basic certification, but wondering if there was some sort of professional certification, that would be something that would attract more women into the job because thinking that maybe the certification helps level out the playing field a little bit.
Lori Richardson 10:44
Yeah, I think generally that that’s helpful. I know that the young woman I talked to, who got marketing degrees and went into marketing said they didn’t think about sales because you can’t get a degree in it. At least where they win. So that was important to them. But I also think seeing more young women and, you know, women that have been in careers for a number of years in sales, you just don’t see a lot about it if it’s not visible. And so we’re working on the women sales pros website to have more success stories of, you know, women in flexible sales careers and you know who have gone. I know a number of women who have gone from finance into sales or marketing into sales. And when you think of it in someone’s lifetime, the difference in earnings you could make between a marketing career and a sales career. You know, huge you’re talking big money in a career.
Andy Paul 11:52
Yeah, when I interview people on the show, both men and women and oftentimes They haven’t started on sales. They didn’t start their career in sales. And I found the one that seemed to be the most prevalent was education. You know, people come from being teachers. Yeah. Men and women. Yeah. Okay, there you go into sales. And to me is probably the most common answer. I asked. People, you know, how’d they start? Start as a teacher?
Lori Richardson 12:23
Yeah. And then we couldn’t make a living. That’s why I got into sales.
Andy Paul 12:29
Sure. Well, you live in a big city or someplace where the cost of living is high.
Lori Richardson 12:33
Andy Paul 12:35
You don’t want to commute an hour each direction or more.
Lori Richardson 12:37
Yeah, yeah. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford to be a teacher. So. So yeah, that is good, that is a good good connection teaching to sales for sure.
Andy Paul 12:50
Well, just trying to think about recruiting tactics because you said you share some pretty common strategies or new strategies with some of the VPS you spoke with. What were some of those in your textbook about what we’re sure that helped them?
Lori Richardson 13:03
Well, a couple things, you know, reviewing the job descriptions, I think is really important for the ads that are placed and looking for gender neutral language. Even, you know, words like competitive are more male focused than gender neutral. Aggressive, certainly is male focused, there are a lot of words that you wouldn’t normally think of, that are perceived as male focused. And so when there are more words like collaboration, helping, working together, focusing on you know, the end results. It’s much more of interest to women in addition to men, and that’s kind of a generalization, but I’ve been talking to people who actually have tools that go through the data going through, you know, millions of job descriptions, and they can determine what is male focus? What is female focus? There’s a company called text do for example that does that.
Andy Paul 14:16
Interesting. Well, I think for people listening, when you hear that, as you really need to remember, this is not some rampant political correctness, you know, running wild. This is how we attract the best people, regardless of gender, to come to our company and work and sell. And there has been research and we talked about this the last time you’re on the show, is that showing that on average, women sales reps perform at a higher level than their male counterparts. So if you’re, you know, VP sales and you’re saying, gosh, I need to find people to fill these open roles. You want the best people, especially if you’re self motivated, but you want to do good. The company will make money yourself. You can write your interviews with the best candidates.
Lori Richardson 15:06
And a sales team that has a mix of men and women is going to do better. Because there’s a diversity of opinions or diversity of strategies. I gave a talk where I shared the first sales job I had, where they didn’t want to hire me because I was a woman. It was actually my second sales job. After I did get hired, you know, it took three interviews and took a long time, but after I came on board, within 90 days, I had closed over a million dollar deal that my male predecessor had been trying to close for months, if not years, simply because we had different styles with the same customer. And you know, I brought something different and you know, it worked. So people need to realize that as well and that goes with different ages, different backgrounds. You know, it’s really good to have diversity of thought on your sales team.
Andy Paul 16:04
Well, and there’s another reason that diversity of thought on your sales team is your customers are increasingly diverse. So you know, long past is the day where you’re, I mean, for most companies, not entirely true, but in the main pass the day or it’s, you know, you’re selling to one C level executive or business owner where there’s always going to be multiple people, increasingly these days involved in decision making, from diverse backgrounds, whether it’s diverse genders, or ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, whatever. You sort of want to be in a position to be able to deal with those that diversity on your end as well.
Lori Richardson 16:44
Right. And just think about that next conference you go to where almost all male speakers are up front, because I went to one about a month ago.
Andy Paul 16:59
Well, yeah, I mean, just you see it, see it all the time. So I mean, it’s not a discussion that’s in danger of disappearing anytime soon. And it seems hard to believe that, you know, here we are now 2017 that, that this still becomes an issue in terms of serve, not just the unconscious biases, you talked about job descriptions and so on, but conscious bias against women and bringing them into customer facing positions.
Lori Richardson 17:37
Right, there are companies really making an effort to, I don’t want to minimize that. So you know, kudos to them. Salesforce and Microsoft and other big diversity efforts going on inclusion programs, and I get calls from heads of HR asking me if there are any women candidates who are chief revenue officers.
Andy Paul 18:07
There certainly are.
Lori Richardson 18:09
Yeah, I definitely have names for them. Yeah, absolutely. So not a lot.
Andy Paul 18:17
So let’s talk a little bit about women sales pros, because we just touched on the beginning. But again, if people didn’t hear previous shows, describe what it is and the organization and what the mission is what you’re trying to accomplish.
Lori Richardson 18:30
It’s a group started as kind of a loose group of women sales experts. And you know, we typically didn’t get on the mainstage and didn’t get speaking opportunities. That is not an issue anymore, because we see a lot of the women in our group and elsewhere who are speaking on main stages and being invited in the companies, so that was a huge surprise. Huge progress that we’ve seen. But it’s moved to now where we’re working on seeing more women get into sales and women in sales to get into leadership and supporting them and helping to be mentors and, and some inspiration.
Andy Paul 19:18
Inside you guys have an annual conference or classes, workshops, webinars.
Lori Richardson 19:23
Yeah, we have an annual conference gonna be in October in Boston, October 4, actually. And we also have a web presence. We’re going to launch a new website fairly soon, and have more online communities accessible.
Andy Paul 19:43
Well, it’s so interesting. You’d written an article not that long ago about the cost of ignoring sales management issues. And yeah, one of those costs is the cost of not hiring more women.
Lori Richardson 19:55
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, people don’t think about how these costs all come together. But, you know, if you could increase revenues by 5 or 10% Why wouldn’t you? You know, and some of these simple ideas we’re talking about could make that happen.
Andy Paul 20:22
That’s sort of the root of a lot of problems in sales is not just this one is an awareness right? Keeping thinking before, following a set or rigid process or rigid mindsets you might have is, you have to take a minute and think about what’s the next best step?
Lori Richardson 20:40
Yeah. And for leaders to think about their sales environment. You know, is it like a fraternity? Or is it like a professional work environment? And, you know, those are the kinds of things when a woman comes in an interview, if they don’t see another woman And leadership anywhere, they might not think that’s a place for them where they could get promoted through the ranks. And so those kinds of things are what people are looking at when they’re interviewing. They’re seeing they’re looking around, you know, does it look like a place that everyone would be comfortable in? And do they see people like them in high positions? Do they need any? No meeting some of the executives can be a great thing, right?
Andy Paul 21:33
Yeah, I mean, I was thinking about this. A couple months ago, I’ve gone to a big concert, and at the concert was this group of seven middle aged guys and two women and the women. Actually, we’re just a little bit younger man, not, man. The guys are on their 40s and the women like them. mid to late 30s. And the guys were all drinking. So now, I walked over because I was not too far from them. And yeah, yeah, clearly, people come from multiple parts of the country and it’s one of the nightly entertainments they bought tickets for them dog. Oh, this cow. And yeah, the guys were sloppy drunk. Yeah, and the women are clearly uncomfortable. And, yeah, just sort of thinking back to one of our conversations you and I had about setting the culture and setting the tone in the sales team. Yeah, somebody just wasn’t paying attention to it. Clearly, thought leaders will do that.
Lori Richardson 22:59
Yeah. They forgot the part about don’t getting sloppy drunk. Right?
Andy Paul 23:06
Yeah, yes, you should have to tell people that these days, right? Yeah.
Lori Richardson 23:11
Yeah. It’s surprising. You’d be surprised the stories I hear
Andy Paul 23:18
Lori Richardson 23:20
Because you’ve been in sales so
Andy Paul 23:22
Yeah, I’ve been in for a long time and started back in the time where even fewer women in general, though, you know I think you and I shared this last time is when I got started the sort of the cadre of people are hired right at the same time. I had what for the time seemed like a large number of women in it. And yeah, a lot of people just said, stone killers and sales. I mean, they were fabulous salespeople. Yeah, and
Lori Richardson 23:55
We’ll enjoy 2017. We should expect a professional work environment. We should expect being paid the same. You know, we’ve talked before I think about that where I knew commissions were the same but I never negotiated my salary. So you know it’s a great sales is such a great career for women from the standpoint of being paid what you’re worth in terms of salary and bonus and commission as long as you get a handle on what a fair salary is like the commissions
Andy Paul 24:27
Sure. I mean Commission’s can be the same, but one of the issues that is found and, you know, some of the research that we referenced last time is that sort of subtle forms of discrimination by account allocation or territory allocation, put people at a disadvantage in it. And surprisingly, it’s not work against women. It can work against a lot of people as well. And you know, that article we talked about before you don’t want the costs of bad sales management. You give the example of oa new so that’s a not new suitable salesperson maybe who was one of the early salespeople in the company who has the big accounts, and it’s just sitting on them and not doing anything. And they have a huge opportunity cost there for the company.
Lori Richardson 25:14
Yeah, it’s amazing how many times I see that too. Because we work with more traditional companies like manufacturing and distribution. So, you know, it’s not cutting edge with lots of data necessarily, which I think you can maybe in Silicon Valley, you can see quicker, you know, what’s going on or through the data. But, yeah, this is, it’s just fascinating to me that once you unseat or move over that person, who’s you know, taking up all the space with not selling but kind of holding on to the accounts and not really working them. And you can just change the whole tone of the sales team.
Lori Richardson 26:00
It’s just amazing and grows revenues big time and grows revenues, right?
Andy Paul 26:05
Yeah. What’s ironic about the situation is that you get this person that oftentimes is the first salesperson, second, third salesperson in the door. They do a fabulous job of going out and capturing new accounts to help the company grow to a certain point. But then there’s this transition where they morph from being new account people to being managers. And maybe they get all complacent. Because milking those accounts and managing those accounts is fairly good money year after year. But they’re not developing that account. And they’re not using skills that they showed up front to go out and develop new accounts. And one of the things that happens then as you see that, and I see this oftentimes, and I just saw this again with a company recently is, is we have people like that they tend also to capture some of the some of the new leads as well. They’re considered to be high performers. And so you’ve got people in your account, and you brought onto your sales team that maybe don’t have those big accounts, they’re struggling a little bit. But because that person’s artificial tops are artificially getting all the business, they’re not getting the leads, so they’re not getting the chance to go and learn.
Lori Richardson 27:17
Right? And they don’t always work the accounts. That’s what they’re handed.
Andy Paul 27:23
So how do you advise companies to deal with that situation? Because this is not unusual at all.
Lori Richardson 27:41
Yeah, well, the first thing I suggest is that they evaluate their sales team, the reps, the leaders, the pipeline, the tools process, and that can be done in a very scientific manner. From that data, they can make some very educated decisions. So it’s not based on gut feeling or what somebody said or what somebody thought. And that’s the way sales decisions should be made.
Andy Paul 28:16
Yeah. But there are things you have to do to win, you definitely have a person in this role, you have to make a change.
Lori Richardson 28:23
Yeah, well with that person, once we’ve evaluated them, and we know what his strengths and shortcomings are or hers, you know, then we would tend to encourage the sales leadership to put some accountability in place, just in terms of activity and results, and some coaching. And typically, someone that’s been around a while doesn’t like that, because they don’t want anybody to bother them. And so they self select out. 9 times out of 10.
Andy Paul 28:58
Yeah, and you shouldn’t be worried about that type of person leaving the company.
Lori Richardson 29:02
It’s better to get rid of them.
Andy Paul 29:10
Yeah, I mean, the thing is the skill of hitting homeruns is more transferable than the accounts that you’re working right in this day and age, especially in b2b sales. I mean, it counts accounts don’t go with people the way that yeah, I mean, for one thing, it was different back in the day perhaps when there was a single decision maker and you had a close relationship and you’re taking up a golf and dinner and blah, blah, blah. But how many companies make decisions anymore?
Lori Richardson 29:39
Right now we have it’s gone from seven to eight decision makers
Andy Paul 29:44
Yeah, maybe a huge advocate for you, but they’re not gonna be sufficient enough to say if you call the guy Joe, if Joe leaves the company then yeah, you don’t. You don’t have to worry about it.
Lori Richardson 30:07
Yeah, someone actually asked me if I was talking about someone named Joe that we knew mutually. And I said, No, I’m not making that name.
Andy Paul 30:15
I’ve seen so well, when one tactic I used in that environment where I had one client that had multiple clients, but the one in particular, is they had a couple people at the top, they were sort of sharing and sharing. Yeah, counsel generated about 80% of the revenue. And it wasn’t just one or two accounts, it was a range of accounts, and they weren’t working the same way. So what I did is, I first started working from like, October, November of last year, a while ago, and I said, Okay, well, here’s one solution at the first of the year, is we made these two people each give away 30% of their accounts. Yeah, that’s all. They gave counseling although their bottom 30% for the most part, but they turned out to be productive accounts for other people because they hadn’t been working.
Lori Richardson 31:08
Yeah, it’s amazing that there’s money to be had, you just need to look through those account lists and look at who’s more probable to do business and you’re right. Move the wealth, share the wealth a little bit.
Andy Paul 31:24
Yeah. Oh, we have another company that did something where if somebody hadn’t, they’re working at a big company and they hadn’t added a name for somebody in a new division because they had a fairly identifiable group of divisions in this particular customer set the guy was working with. If he wasn’t adding new contacts, new division, the divisions became open territory.
Lori Richardson 31:45
Andy Paul 31:47
So things you can do as a manager just to, you know, get the data, as Laurie said, but firm taxes you can take. And, yeah, people end up leaving but they’re feeling they’re being You know, treated badly cuz they’re saying all the council’s on that they just can’t sit there dumbfounded happy. Let them go.
Lori Richardson 32:07
Yeah, it’s really, really amazing to see that transformation. encourage people to think about it anyway.
Andy Paul 32:18
Don’t necessarily wait for, you know, end of the year thought a lot about is if you have the problem addressing
Lori Richardson 32:24
Fix it and, and be scientific about it, take it from a data approach, not an emotional response.
Andy Paul 32:33
So Laurie, we’re gonna finish up with some standard questions, ask all my guests. And since you’ve actually been on the show multiple times, I had to come up with some new questions for you.
Lori Richardson 32:47
Andy Paul 32:48
So I don’t think I asked this one before, but we’ll give it a shot. So the first one was in your mind. Based on your experience, is it easier to teach a technical salesperson how to sell or teach a salesperson how to sell a technical product.
Lori Richardson 33:06
I’ve done both. But I would go with the right person that has a sales background and can pick up the technical easier than vice versa.
Andy Paul 33:19
Why do you think that?
Lori Richardson 33:21
I’m assuming that they’re coachable and trainable, that we have someone that is optimistic that has high sales DNA. If that’s the case, we can give them enough background to be, you know, dangerous to know enough to be technical. I never was a technical salesperson, maybe that’s my bias. But I always could connect people, I could get the rapport built and bring in my technical expertise or I could learn enough to sound knowledgeable to to add value to the buyer. We have to do so much now. And I, I just I’ve seen a lot of technical people that have trouble with rapport and some real fundamental you know, competencies that I tend to lean the other the other direction.
Andy Paul 34:20
All right. So the next question for you then is what one book that’s not a sales book not a business book. Would you recommend that every salesperson read?
Lori Richardson 34:43
I’ll tell you what I’m reading right now. Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss.
Andy Paul 34:53
Yeah, what do you like about that book?
Lori Richardson 34:56
Um, you know, he talks about habits that successful people do. Tim Ferriss you know, very different for me, a lot of measurement and he’s kind of over the top for me, but I, you know, there’s truth in everything. And I find that, you know, this is an interesting book to learn about successful habits of other people and I think any book like that there’s some old time books about success that I think are really good as well.
Andy Paul 35:31
Okay. So that’s the question then if you could change one thing about your business self. What would that be?
Lori Richardson 35:45
I would like to be more of a marketer mindset. Because I think a lack of I’m just so sales focused, the lack of the big picture marketing, I think that that’s What always moves me forward is when I pull marketing together well with, with, you know, whatever I’m thinking about I get so many ideas. And maybe that’s the problem. I should have less ideas. But yeah, just I’d love to be a really sophisticated marketer mind.
Andy Paul 36:28
Yeah, we’re salespeople. Alright, so last question for you. So do you have a favorite quotation or words of wisdom that you live by?
Lori Richardson 36:50
Find successful people in the area that you want to be successful and do what they do.
Andy Paul 37:41
Okay, all right. Great talking to you as always, and telling folks how they can find out more about you or connect with you.
Lori Richardson 38:11
They can find me at scoremoresales.com at Score More Sales on Twitter or at Women Sales Pros on Twitter.
Andy Paul 38:23
Okay, well, Lori, thank you again for being with me and taking the time and friends. Thank you for spending the time with us today. Remember, make it part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. easily do that. join these conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Lori Richardson, who shared her expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. And if you enjoy accelerating and the value we’re delivering them, please take a quick minute right now. Leave your feedback about this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you listen be very much precious. traded and thanks again for joining me. Till next time this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.