The Importance of Diversity in the Sales Team
Diverse Buyers Respond Better to Diverse Selling Teams
A sales team becomes strong when it has the capacity to understand and empathize with the varied perspectives of different stakeholders. A stakeholder’s perspective, however, is informed by more than their business needs. They are also influenced by their background, and sellers are better able to connect with customers when that background.
The power of diversity is so strong that it can even be seen in business outcomes. A Forrester survey of 500 B2B sales leaders determined that organizations with leading DEI (diverse, equitable, inclusive) practices experienced an average lead-to-opportunity conversion rate of 54% compared to just 26% among organizations that were lacking in DEI practices.
This finding illustrates that diversity brings richness to the selling team that is needed to truly connect with the modern stakeholder group. Diversity is what equips the sales team to see all sides of the customer. It is not surprising that the same research found that sales teams with leading DEI practices also have higher customer satisfaction scores and sales attainment than lagging DEI teams.
Here we look at three more reasons why being a modern sales team means being a diverse one.
Diversity Equips the Team with Better Communication Skills
Communication skills cease to grow when the sales team consists of an undiversified group.
In this setting, everyone assumes that all others understand their meaning no matter how an idea is communicated. Team members settle into a norm in which communication becomes a kind of shorthand. This style may work within a group of similar sellers, but it falls short of the kind of communication needed with those outside the team.
In a diversified group communication skills are dynamic. They improve because each seller knows they are talking to someone with a set of norms and experiences that is different than their own. As a result, each seller learns to develop a communication style that is professional, inclusive, and intentional. These attributes then become part of the group’s communication with customers.
When customers experience this kind of communication, they know they are working with a team that takes a conscientious approach which signals the selling team’s effectiveness.
Diversity Prevents Groupthink
Undiversified groups are prone to groupthink
This is a phenomenon in which a team’s overwhelming drive for cohesiveness and agreement leads them to make poor decisions in the interest of unity. If a person in an undiversified group has a dissenting opinion, they are more likely to feel the pressure to silence or change their perspective. This happens because the rest of the group consists of people that largely look and act the same. Therefore, the person with the differing opinion feels outnumbered.
In a diversified group, the dissenting member is unlikely to face a team that is united. Instead, the rest of the group is likely to be varied in background and perspective. This diversity will often give the individual the comfort and safety to make themselves heard.
Diversity in the team is also what helps the sellers to see groupthink as it encroaches because a diverse group has a higher probability of including a person that can recognize the team’s flawed perspective. Put simply, more perspectives make it easier to glimpse the blind spots.
Diversity Reflects Today’s Stakeholder Group
The buying team is diversified and therefore the selling team must also be diversified.
Buying teams today consist of a group that is larger and more varied than ever before. If the stakeholders do not see their diversity reflected in the selling team, they are likely to see the partnership as a mismatch. This unevenness creates a difficult start for the relationship. The buyers need to see that the selling team understands them. This is difficult when diversity is only found on one side of the table.
Stakeholders are not the only ones who want to see diversity. Sellers also want to see it within the company they work for. They want to be part of a company where they feel aligned with the values of the business. Attracting the best sellers means building an organization that can demonstrate a commitment to a diverse and inclusive setting.
It is also important to remember that diversity cannot be limited to just the outward-facing sales team. It must also be reflected throughout the tiers of the business. This means having a diverse executive team to ensure that the benefits of diversity can be experienced at all decision-making levels.
Diversity means more than messaging. It means committing to the practice of representing all backgrounds throughout the organization. The most effective leaders understand that a diverse team is necessary to spark the kind of innovation needed to remain competitive.
At Richardson, we are continually focused on growing our levels of diversity of all kinds and ensuring that we have the foundation of an equitable and inclusive environment that enables success for all of our stakeholders. Click here to learn more about our sustainability and DE&I initiatives.
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