Does Gender Matter When Selling?

As the gender gap continues to shrink (albeit slowly), the topic of gender differences tend to come up from time to time, questioning the effectiveness of each gender in similar roles. People want to know: Is there a difference when salespeople sell to a woman versus a man? Are there different approaches one should take when faced with one gender or another? Do people respond differently depending on the gender of the salesperson?

Throughout the years, we get multiple studies that yield varying results and conclusions. As trends continually change in the workplace, and women are gaining increased equality among their counterparts, we must revisit the topic of gender in relation to sales.

The Salesperson

Who is more effective at selling? Men or women?

Everyone is curious and numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to answer the question.

Before we address the “which gender is better” question, we must look at what criteria buyers look for in a salesperson that would influence that buying decision. Many of these criteria link back to a previous article of mine which outlined the six principles of persuasion to be used in a psychological selling technique.

“Purchasers make judgments or global evaluations of sales people, their companies and their product/service offerings on such facets as trustworthiness.”

These global evaluations include traits such as trust, credibility, customer orientation and communication behaviors. A study was conducted to measure if these traits were regarded any differently depending on the gender of the salesperson.

The result? There were no significant variations that suggested a variance in how buyers regarded male or female salespeople that would affect their buying decisions. For example, the criteria of being credible is highly critical in the success of the sale. The study which observed this trait and several others concluded that there was no particular bias towards the gender of the salesperson. Most often, the salesperson is not the only influence on the buyer’s evaluation. Other factors such as the product and company also influence the perception of each trait.

How can there be no compelling differences given that previous studies have already answered this question before?

Older studies have suggested that there were distinctions, but as societal views on the gender gap changes, so does the behaviors and beliefs. Women are increasingly populating the work place which implies that “gender may not be as significant an issue today as was previously thought.” This does not give a definite answer that men and women are uniformly similar when selling. Undoubtedly, there are differences but it appears that the two genders seem to share more similarities that previously thought. Other recent studies also support this argument.

In another, they also concluded that female salespeople are just as effective. In some cases, matching a particular sex with another outperformed same sex duos. “In fact, results showed women selling to men performed higher than female-female dyads and also exceeds male-male and male-female.” However, these two studies are only a faction of a myriad of studies out there. There are contradicting results out there that can be varied due to the sample size, geography, or time period. For the time being, the winner in the battle of the sexes is indefinite.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there is a noticeable difference in the performance of female versus male  salespeople? Let’s discuss below.