With International Women’s Day just around the corner, it is a timely reminder for sales teams to consider how they are prioritising diversity. To understand the importance of having diverse networks, we first need to acknowledge and understand our own limitations.
Whether we choose to accept it or not, we all harbour biases that impact our ability to appreciate and understand all perspectives. Let’s look at why a diverse network is essential for sales teams, as well as ways it can be achieved and sustained.
Why is Diversity Important?
Diversity has been quite the buzzword over the years, but it has still not been attained by many sales organisations. This may be due to the fact that many do not understand the immense benefits of having diverse networks. Diversity is crucial for successful sales teams. And it is not something that can be passively attained. Here are three top advantages of diversity for your sales team.
The Moral Case–It’s the Right Thing to Do
Investing in diversity is first and foremost ethically the right thing to do. A lack of diversity in your network can create inequality and a toxic environment for employees, while damaging employee engagement. Although ethical decisions don’t always translate to profit, today’s generation of moral buyers is changing this.
So it’s time for managers to focus on creating the best environment with diverse team members. The new generation entering the workforce, Gen Z, is much more focused on the moral aspects of business operations. They are looking for diversity, and a company that is prioritising this is much more likely to attract a larger talent pool.
A More Innovative Sales Team
Not only does diversity resonate with the emerging workforce, but it provides your team with creativity and innovation. This moral issue is in fact profitable! In fact, diverse sales teams have higher conversion rates and sales attainment.
Diverse networks that offer alternative perspectives challenge everyone to foster long-term, sustainable growth. The more diverse your network, the more your network will challenge you and put forward innovative decisions. Utilising the help of those around us from different backgrounds, cultures, and industries is crucial in challenging our own thought processes and pushing us further towards growth.
Stronger Customer Relations
Another aspect of diversity that can greatly empower your sales goals is its effect on customer relations. A Harvard Business Review study found that a sales team member with the same ethnicity as a client is 152% more likely to understand and connect with them. Connecting with people from various communities is only beneficial for team outcomes.
Diversity not only includes culture, but it encompasses professional experience as well. Create a network in which sales reps have extensive knowledge or experience in a certain field that others don’t, so they may offer a perspective you have never considered.
How to Implement Diverse Networks
Diversity is definitely easier explained than applied. However, considering the benefits of diverse networks, implementation in 2022 is crucial for your team. So how can you build a diverse network? Let’s consider three steps sales teams can take to achieve this.
Start with Hiring and Recruitment
Every sales team’s culture begins with hiring and recruitment. Sales managers should ask themselves, “How can I create a recruitment process that attracts diverse talent for sales members, including sales management?”
Openness to diversity makes you a much more attractive organisation to prospective employees. It would be easy to recruit someone very similar to yourself, but identifying individuals that bring something different is an opportunity for growth for everyone. Identifying individuals with complementary skills to yours or others in the team supports growth and development, as well as pushing any boundaries that may have manifested.
Fostering Inclusive Culture
Attracting diverse networks is one step, but sustaining diversity requires much more rigorous work. Creating an inclusive team culture is one of the strongest ways to foster diversity.
Sales teams that want to foster diversity should start with creating a trusting environment where everyone feels safe to speak up. Effective sales leaders appreciate that they need to surround themselves with people that are different from them. The ability to harness collective knowledge from a diverse group is hugely important.
This starts with healthy communication. It may also include providing resources that employees can use for support. By doing this, you are creating a space where everyone feels supported and empowered to share their ideas and concerns.
Training and Education
Most major changes for companies or sales teams are hardly achieved overnight. Training and education are crucial during these transformations. Sales managers should be firstly trained in how to successfully manage a sales team, as well as in how to foster diverse networks.
Team managers should ask themselves, “What standards can I hold for myself and my team that will sustain diversity and inclusion?” The answer to this question should be the cornerstone of training that will set habits for the sales team.
Education and training are never a one-time deal, so this should be something leaders implement regularly for continuous growth.
Start Building Diverse Networks Today
If we’re able to deeply understand our teams and appreciate the multitude of perspectives at play, the more valuable our solutions will be whilst ensuring they are aligned to the needs of those that they impact.
Creating and sustaining a diverse professional network is no easy job, but it is clearly worth it for all sales teams to grow. Don’t know where to start? Have your team take a free Sales Skills Scorecard to identify everyone’s varying strengths. This will allow you to see how you can bring in more diverse talents where your team needs them most.
Invest in your sales team’s training with the Sales Management Toolkit from London School of Sales, an interactive e-learning platform on topics such as leveraging different perspectives, forming positive team habits, and developing vision.