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I was a junior in college working part-time at a financial services firm in Manhattan. It was my first paid corporate gig, and I was employed by one of the few female financial reps in the office. Every morning I’d come into work, she’d greet me and hand me a stack of leads to call.
I’d start my day smiling and dialing as early as 8 a.m., targeting managing directors and vice presidents who were making a minimum of $500k per year. I had a script and was prepared to overcome any objection. I plowed through phone call after phone call confident that every "no" would lead me closer to a "yes."
I was killing it with cold calls and seemed to effortlessly warm up contacts and schedule meetings with high-net-worth individuals day in and day out. On occasion, I’d get hung up on mid-sentence, and surely there was at least one time I was yelled at and wrongly accused of stealing a company directory. But for the most part, most of the investment bankers I called were polite.
Then one day, one of the men in the office whom I was internally competing with for dials pointed out that the investment bankers were more courteous and receptive to my cold-calls because I am a woman. I'd been attributing my success to my persistence, positive attitude, clever greetings, and pattern interrupts — but could my gender be a contributing factor, too?
Needless to say, from that day forward, I chose to become aware of how being a woman may put me at an advantage in business.
Shortly out of college, I went on to work in the finance and insurance service industry as a marketing director for two highly successful financial representatives. They were hiring, and my previous work experience gave me a shoo-in. It wasn’t a surprise to me that the majority of financial reps were men, while women had support staff roles within marketing, client service, compliance, or administration.
That said, there were a few female financial reps, and they helped give me insight into the secrets of their success in this male-dominated industry — patterns that I was to see reflected in my own experience, too. Here are the three reasons why being a woman has given me advantage throughout my career in sales, customer service, coaching, and professional development.
1. Women express emotions and connect on an emotional level.
Women are much better than men in understanding and connecting with one another on an emotional level, which is another way of saying we're emotionally intelligent. For people of all gender, emotions often override logic in driving our decisions and purchasing behaviors. As a woman business owner and coach who has to influence people to make decisions, I believe I’m much better at speaking to those emotions than my male counterparts.
When I attended an annual financial services conference, a top female financial representative delivered the first sales training I ever experienced. She trained us on the “feel, felt, found” method, a time-tested strategy to build trust with customers and help them feel heard and understood. We were taught to use this framework to help us acknowledge the client’s feelings, instill confidence, and suggest solutions.
2. Women are better at building supportive relationships.
Most women don’t want to be sold or told what to do unless trust is established and they feel valued and understood. A lot of the women that I work with are high-achievers in their lives, businesses, and careers. Their time is limited, and they care about their reputation, so they want a safe space to air their frustrations and get help making decisions and taking action toward their dreams.
My clients juggle many roles, including those of mom, wife, daughter, PTA member, business professional, volunteer, and so on and so forth. With all those roles, some clients feel as though they’re going through the motions, or stuck in a rut. Feelings are suppressed and compartmentalized. When I help my clients make sense of their experience and express themselves in a judgement-free zone, they feel relieved and I earn their trust.
3. Women hold the power of the purse.
Women have purchasing power. They are the nexus of their core family, extended family, and friends. Within their immediate families, women determine where the energy flows and the money goes. A woman holds the greatest decision and purchasing power for the family and children, even if she isn’t the primary breadwinner (though more and more women are). According to multiple studies, women drive approximately 70-80% of consumer spending with their influence over purchases made by their parents, children, partners, and friends. Therefore, whether in my financial services role or in my role as an enrollment advisor for Dream Careers programs, I made it a priority to ensure that a woman (typically the family's wife and/or mom) was a part of the process.
I believe we live in a she-conomy and that as women, we're at an advantage in having the opportunity to promote and advance the causes, products, and services that will contribute to the greater good of our communities.
Evangelia is an expert career coach at The Muse and founder of Career Ready Set Rock, an independent consultancy for millennial women, moms, and moms-to-be who want to make more moves, money, and meaning in their lives and careers. Although Evangelia swears by strengths assessments and action plans, at heart she believes that the greatest life blessings and lessons come from being present, surrendering and having faith.
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