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How to ensure diversity and inclusion in your sales teams.

Updated: May 4, 2023

Diversity and inclusion in sales teams are not only ethical and social goals, but also business imperatives for any sales organisation. Research shows that diverse teams perform better, generate more revenue, and foster more innovation than homogeneous ones. However, achieving diversity and inclusion in sales hiring is not always easy. You may face challenges such as unconscious bias, limited talent pools, and conflicting performance criteria. How do you balance these factors and make the best hiring decisions for your sales team? Here are some tips to help you.

Assess your current situation The first step to balance diversity and inclusion with sales performance is to understand your current state of affairs. How diverse and inclusive is your sales team, culture, and process? How do you measure and reward sales performance? How do you define and communicate your expectations and values? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as surveys, audits, analytics, and feedback. You can also benchmark yourself against industry standards and best practices. This will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Sometimes we can be blindsided by always looking inwards to our own organisation. A good exercise to do will be to compare your structure to competitors in the market who are doing as well as or better in their market share. Could their team structure participate to their success?

Set clear and realistic goals The next step is to set clear and realistic goals for your diversity and inclusion efforts. What are the specific outcomes you want to achieve? How do they align with your sales performance objectives? How will you track and evaluate your progress? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as SMART goals, OKRs, and KPIs. You can also involve your stakeholders, such as your sales team, leaders, customers, and partners. This will help you create a shared vision, commitment, and accountability.

After all, the point of a diverse sales team is not to look representative or socially acceptable, but more to ensure that you are not benchmarking a specific niche of customer. A more diverse team will interact with customers differently and you will find that having different approaches will not only motivate your team but also attract a wider audience.

Review your hiring process The third step is to review your hiring process and make sure it is fair, consistent, and inclusive. How do you source, screen, interview, and select your sales candidates? How do you avoid or mitigate bias, stereotypes, and discrimination? How do you ensure a positive and respectful candidate experience? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as job descriptions, assessments, structured interviews, recruitment consultants and scorecards. You can also seek diverse perspectives, feedback, and input from your hiring team, mentors, and experts. This will help you attract, evaluate, and hire the best talent for your sales team.

Often having a refer scheme will help tremendously with this as you are not relying on a singular role to always look at hiring, but instead, you will use your team to wider the net and help to eliminate unconscious bias.

Provide ongoing support and development The fourth step is to provide ongoing support and development for your sales team. How do you onboard, train, coach, and mentor your sales reps? How do you foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and feedback? How do you address any issues or challenges that may arise? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as orientation, curriculum, resources, external sales coaches and recognition. You can also leverage the strengths, experiences, and insights of your diverse team members. This will help you retain, engage, and empower your sales team.

Celebrate and communicate your success The fifth step is to celebrate and communicate your success. How do you recognise and reward your sales team for their achievements? How do you showcase and share your diversity and inclusion stories and best practices? How do you inspire and influence others to join or support your efforts? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as incentives, awards, testimonials, and case studies. You can also leverage your networks, platforms, and channels to amplify your impact. This will help you build trust, reputation, and loyalty.

It is important to remember that sales is changing and buying cycles and personas are changing along side this. It is easy to hire based on the recruiters personality when they see 'mini me's' during the hiring process, however, collaboration and diversity are what fuel evolution within knowledge, structure and processes.

Keep learning and improving The final step is to keep learning and improving. How do you collect and analyse data and feedback on your diversity and inclusion and sales performance results? How do you identify and address any gaps or areas for improvement? How do you adapt and innovate to changing needs and expectations? To answer these questions, you can use tools such as surveys, reports, dashboards, and action plans. You can also seek external guidance, support, and collaboration from experts, peers, and partners. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and achieve excellence.

In Summary

It is extremely beneficial to have a diverse sales team that can challenge, bounce and collaborate ideas and best practice. Diversity and inclusion should not be a tick list but rather a powerful tool to consider to ensure you have access to as wide an audience as possible.

Written in collaboration with Linked In and Closers Ace


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