Men Or Women - Who's Actually Better At Sales?


In a recent article by Roger Dooley, author of “Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing," he described how “romantically primed" men were much more likely to spend lots of money than men who were not so primed, and than women in either condition.

Separately, we've also noted that female salespeople seem to dominate some areas, and that these women seem to skew toward the attractive end of the spectrum.

One example is the pharmaceutical sales rep, who prototypically is an attractive female who spends much of her time calling on a predominantly male physician customer base. That's an overgeneralization, of course – there are lots of female physicians, and lots of male drug reps. Still, the stereotype is sufficiently valid that a physician acquaintance of mine expressed mock shock at seeing a middle-aged male drug rep, quipping, “I don't think I've seen one of those before."

Peacock Effect

If subconsciously primed with romantic thoughts, the male customer will be more inclined to demonstrate his mating potential by his spending behavior, e.g., by placing a large order. After all man no longer has to hunt in the traditional sense to showcase his desirability to a potential mate.

The evolution of the human brain was primarily driven by finding better ways to appeal to the opposite sex. A University of New Mexico professor collaborated with a professor at the University of Arizona State to publish their findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Their findings can be read here, in Geoffrey Miller's theory. Consequently, one would expect that other behavior, placing an order, would demonstrate the “peacock effect."

Even though a physician isn't actually ordering product or spending money (it's patients and insurance companies that spend the real money), he still demonstrates his power and mastery by agreeing to distribute samples, recommend the product in appropriate situations, and so on. Exercising authority in this manner is as much of a visible power display as writing a personal check.

Intuitively better at sales

There have been numerous books devoted to it, and one in particular- Women Make the Best Salesmen: Isn't it Time You Started Using their Secrets? that does all but end the discussion. Marion Luna Brem, Inc magazine's entrepreneur-of-the-year and author of the previously mentioned book provides practical advice useful to anyone; she does so in candid fashion, explaining that every relationship involves some type of “sale," if not a literal one.

She sets out to teach the reader a different way of thinking, immediately asking, “What are you selling?" The book's description notes, “Women with their natural social skills and acute emotional antennae, have natural advantages both sexes can learn from." But maybe there's more to it than romantic priming or intuitive advantages. You guessed it, a compelling study that may alter the landscape for good: definitive proof that women are better closers.


Recently, the data science team at Gong analyzed data from 30,469 sales calls and it was an eye-opener, to say the least: women listen less than men and women interrupt their customers more than men. In fact, by every measure, thus far, men seem to follow “the rules of selling" better than least on paper. Despite “following the rules of selling" men close deals at a lower rate than women.

In the analysis, men on average had a 42:58 talk-to-listen ratio, while women averaged 46:54, talking nine percent more than men. Furthermore, men interrupt their prospects an average of 4.2 times per hour whereas women average 6.3 interruptions per hour. Lastly, women tend to go on monologues (uninterrupted streaks of talking) longer-and more frequently-than men do. When men go off on monologues they average 116 seconds, and women average 130 second monologues. You're probably beginning to conclude, albeit falsely, that men are better at sales based on these details.

Women close 11 percent more sales deals than men! Even though the data paints women as less-skilled listeners they close deals at a faster and higher rate than men. In Gong's data set, men had a 49 percent likelihood of moving opportunities to the next stage, while women boasted a 54 percent success rate. Now that you've been broad-sided, and are left wondering whether or not you forgot your morning cup of joe, think about what this could mean.

Science consists of both the qualitative aspects of a problem and the quantitative (data) side of the story. So, how are women getting more deals done while breaking some of the traditional so-called rules-of-selling? Despite the fact that the data reveals men to be better listeners than women (maybe the men are day-dreaming or scrolling through their smart phones while seemingly listening), silence clearly does not equate to listening.

Please feel free to offer feedback on this stunner of a revelation. Perhaps you have a more thorough explanation as to what's the missing piece, or pieces, to this equation. Your input is very much welcome. Now I will go brew some coffee with the hope that the fresh aroma wafting through my nostrils will help to fire up the synapses.

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