Top Women In Sales Reveal Their Best Kept Secrets For Success

In the past, sales was seen as a male-dominated occupation, although things are changing. Indeed, according to research published by LinkedIn, the percentage of sales jobs occupied by women increased from 36 percent to 39 percent between 2004 and 2014. As a result, there has never been a better time for women to enter the field.

Nevertheless, those looking to enjoy success in sales will still have to navigate certain hurdles along the way. In this article, we speak to some of the top women in the industry to find out their best kept secrets for success.

1. Curiosity Goes a Long Way

One of the single biggest keys to success in sales is having a basic intellectual curiosity and a desire to find out information. Good salespeople should constantly be asking questions, because this enables them to find out who they are selling to, what their customers want, why they want it, and how to improve their own sales skills.

“Curiosity is one of the most important traits of a successful sales professional,” suggests Jennifer Young, who works as a director of sales at Miller Heiman Group. “Ask questions. Then ask more questions.”

Allen Mueller, executive director of MHG in North America, agrees wholeheartedly on the importance of curiosity.

“I’m curious by nature, always asking how things work and why. When I see something, I want to know everything about it,” Mueller explains. “How this has helped me in sales? I have a deep desire to really understand our customers and what they’re trying to accomplish. I want to know their challenges.”

2. Sales Is About Passion and Compassion

Curiosity is one thing, but the best salespeople also have two other qualities: passion for their job and for the products or services they are selling, and compassion for the people they are trying to sell to.

No matter how good your core sales skills are, it is difficult or even impossible to make up for a lack of genuine passion for what you are doing. Likewise, the best negotiation training in the world will not compensate for a lack of compassion for the people you are dealing with, because sales is about making human connections.

“Look to serve your customers and help them make the best decision for them,” says Tamara Schenk, research director for CSO Insights and one of the leading voices in sales enablement. “That would not only help your customer, but it would benefit you and your organisation in the long run.”

3. You Should Actively Seek Help

Another great bit of advice to get ahead in the sales field is to actively seek help, rather than waiting for help to come to you. Try to remember, your colleagues – especially sales managers – have a vested interest in your success, so you should feel confident in asking them for assistance when you are struggling.

“The best advice I can give a new seller is this: Acknowledge what you know and admit what you don’t know,” says Jennifer Young. “One of the reasons I’ve been so successful in sales is that I seek out coaching. Don’t confuse asking questions and seeking input as a weakness.”

Of course, help does not always have to come from within your own organisation. In addition to learning new things in your own time, you can seek assistance from third parties as well.

“Check out Miller Heiman Group’s Sales Ready offerings to give a boost to your career,” advises Tamara Schenk.

4. Competitiveness is Crucial

Ultimately, getting good at sales is about winning. Everything from sales training to negotiation training is designed to enable you to win and to help your clients to win too. However, a natural competitive instinct can be the difference between meeting or exceeding quota, and failing to reach your targets.

“I love winning, and sales gives me or my team the opportunity to win,” says Allen Mueller. “Winning in sales means helping customers win, too. This desire to win and help customers win is the reason I’m still in sales.”

“Competitiveness is gender neutral,” adds Jennifer Young.


Sales does not need to be a male-dominated field and research shows an increasing number of women entering and enjoying success in the field. Some of the most important qualities needed for success, however, include a natural curiosity, passion for what you do, compassion for customers, a willingness to seek help and a competitive instinct.

For those looking to improve sales performance, Miller Heiman Group offers a number of sales services that can help, while our events will also cover many of the most important sales topics, including training and enablement. You can find out more about these events and register your interest in them by clicking here.

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