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.

7min read

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.

A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization ( publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.