5 Tips for Selling in a Man's World

Let's face it – it isn't always easy to be a woman, especially in the wide world of sales. In a male-dominated atmosphere, it's easy to feel as though your gender is holding you back, regardless of the reality of your employment opportunities. The mental blocks that can come with a woman's role in a historically male field can often be just as damaging as industry stereotypes – in short, making you your own worst enemy.

As a woman in sales, there's often a divide between hitting minimums and truly succeeding. These five tips can keep you on your toes, helping you own your role in a man's world.

Don't Get Grouped With Admin Girls

Despite the influx of women in tech, finance, science, and sales careers over the last several generations, many women do still hold positions that are seen as traditionally female, like administrative roles. These jobs serve a vital part of an organization's purpose and deserve the utmost respect, just like any other career path.

However, it's unfortunately common for men to assume that women are more likely to hold these kinds of roles, and far too many saleswomen have been mistaken for an assistant or an admin. Instead of allowing yourself to get pigeonholed into tasks that aren't yours, stand your ground. You worked hard for your position, and you don't have time to order paper or schedule the CEO's meetings.

Be More Than Just Your Looks

As a saleswoman, your appearance is important. A good impression is a big part of making a sale, and that often means a sophisticated presentation. It's okay to value looking put together, especially when you're meeting clients, and it's okay to show your male colleagues that your fashion sense, makeup choices, and hairstyle are important to you.

But that's not all you are. In addition to being pretty and poised, you're also a hard-working professional in an influential role with a wealth of industry experience and expertise. While it's okay to put a pretty face forward, don't rest on your outer beauty alone. You're an accomplished woman, and you have so much more to offer than simply your appearance.

Be Confident

Confidence is important in the business world, and that includes sales. It can be hard to find your voice in a male-dominated industry, especially for women who are naturally shy, but speaking with confidence and poise is an important part of succeeding in sales.

Even if you're the only woman on your team, feel ostracized by male coworkers, or don't yet feel comfortable, it's important to fake it 'til you make it, as the adage goes. The more confident you appear, the more natural it will feel. In time, you'll grow to be truly confident in your industry, speaking, acting, and carrying yourself like a seasoned pro.

Find a Balance

Some women, especially when working in a male-dominated area, attempt to mask their femininity. They feel that it is more important to be one of the guys, choosing to hide behind their coworkers' ideals instead of being themselves.

As a woman in sales, you don't have to pretend to be someone different. It's perfectly fine to admit your gender and acknowledge your womanhood, no matter what your company thinks. It's best not to lead with this or make it your whole identity, however; just be your own person with your own interests and your own personality.

Use Emotion Effectively

Women are stereotyped as the more emotional gender and are seen as more likely to cry, break down, or worry about everyday situations. Whether true or not – after all, women are individuals – it's important to separate emotion from your job.

In general, men don't get nervous or emotional about money or relationships, so it's critical that you don't either. Instead, learn to use emotion to your advantage, placing emphasis on the things that are most likely to trigger sales in your customers. Once you determine how, when, and where to utilize emotion, you'll be far more likely to rise above your male coworkers.

Being a woman in a man's world isn't a recipe for disaster. Women are just as capable of being excellent salespeople – some say better, even – so seeing yourself as lesser or inferior isn't worth anyone's time. With the right approach, it's possible to rise above your peers, putting you on a level of which your male coworkers can only dream.