No, we’re not talking about making a diversity hire for its sake. Simply because progression for the sake of progression doesn’t help anyone. This is more than just diversity being a compliance initiative or about ticking that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) box.
It’s about how building a diverse sales team can significantly impact your company’s revenue. In the grand scheme of things, it really comes down to the numbers. So, here’s some data for why you should have a diverse sales team. You'll want to read this if you’re a sales leader or a hiring manager.
Higher Sales Success
In a 2021 DEI study conducted by Forrester and commissioned by LinkedIn, Diversity Drives Success in Sales, it was found that sales teams with leading DEI practices have an average lead-to-opportunity conversion rate of 54 percent, while those lagging DEI practices are at just 26 percent. It also shed light on sales attainment rates - sales teams with leading DEI practices reached 43 percent sales attainment in comparison to the 31 percent that sales teams with lagging DEI practices reached.
In another 2019 report by McKinsey & Company - Diversity Wins - more than 1000 large companies were examined across industries in over 15 countries. The results state that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” In the case of cultural and ethnic diversity, the top-quartile companies financially outperformed those in the fourth by 36 percent in profitability.
The numbers are clearly saying the same thing: more diverse sales teams perform better. Companies with the highest levels of diversity brought in 10-15 times as much revenue, have a better market share, and happier customers.
How to Improve Diversity in Your Sales Team
What does a sales team do? They’re the middle people that bridge the gap between business and its consumers. That means a large portion of their work involves connecting with people.
It is no secret that the buyer population has diversified over time. And in today’s buyer-first world, a diverse sales team can relate better to ensure a good selling experience. So, what can you do to make sure that your sales team is diverse enough?
Here are three things to keep in mind:
If you don’t know about it, how will you act upon it? That’s why the first order of business should be to acknowledge that there’s an issue. Teams need to go above and beyond the initial hire instead of playing need for speed and trying to win the race. The need of the hour is hiring talented and driven individuals irrespective of their skin color, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Donald C Kelly, Founder of The Sales Evangelist said,
“A diverse team with diverse practices can relate so much better to customers who themselves are more diverse. It's time we start seeing real changes in the sales world.”
This simply means that you need to figure out how to solve this. The answer to this is to keep it inclusive. Take time to understand your hiring priorities, get salespeople onboard from all backgrounds, and engage in proactive pipelining efforts with under-represented communities. For example, Hang Black, VP of Revenue Enablement at Juniper Networks, has a 20/20 rule that ensures 20 percent of the recruiting pipeline consists of under-represented minorities, but also that they represent 20 percent of the interviewing committee.
There are a plethora of resources on diversity recruitment available to help you evolve and communicate better on sensitive issues and create a more inclusive and safe space for your sales team. It isn’t about just adding a simple policy and calling it a day. It’ll take dedicated time and effort to build a diverse and balanced sales team. Cherilynn Castleman, Managing Partner, CGI Executive Coaching
“Investing in the development and retention of a diverse salesforce and sales leadership team is more than just honoring a commitment to DE&I – it is a smart business decision. Leading organizations are making these investments, and it’s paying off. The proof is in the numbers.”
It’ll all pay off in the end - both financially and figuratively.