Revenue Operations Sales Execution

3 Ways to Champion Women in Sales

Headshot photograph of Lynn Powers, Enterprise Sales Director at Clari

Lynn Powers
Enterprise Sales Director, Clari



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Stylistic illustration of a symbol representing a sales cycle with a cutout in the shape of the female symbol
Stylistic illustration of a symbol representing a sales cycle with a cutout in the shape of the female symbol

Every year, Clari recognizes top sellers during our annual sales and revenue kickoff for our revenue operations teams. 

In 2022, the top six sellers, and seven of the top 10, were women. 

Women outperforming their peers in sales is a well-known phenomenon. For example, Boston Consulting Group research shows that women tend to outperform men in B2B and SaaS selling, which often depends on strong relationship-building skills to drive recurring revenue.

That goes for the boardroom, too. 

McKinsey & Company reports that companies with more women in senior leadership positions see higher profits and stock performance. In order to tap into this power, organizations and leaders need to invest in long-term support for women in sales.

I’m the Enterprise Sales Director at Clari, and since 2021, I’ve served as a senior board member for Women in Revenue, a group of leaders in revenue-generating roles dedicated to education, mentorship, and career advancement.

Through my work with Clari and Women in Revenue, I get to build relationships with every level of the hierarchy.  

What separates supportive—and successful—revenue operations organizations for women? I see three key programs:

1. Mentoring and sponsoring women in sales
2. Promoting women to leadership roles
3. Creating a workplace culture that supports women

1. Mentoring and sponsoring women in sales

Expanding your business requires investing in growth opportunities for employees across your business. Women in sales are no exception. Mentorship and sponsorship are related, but different, ways to invest in women’s sales success.

I’ve experienced the benefits of both. I currently mentor two sales teammates at Clari, and I’ve also been sponsored and mentored by senior leaders. 

Mentorship refers to a relationship where someone shares professional guidance and knowledge. The mentee learns from the mentor’s experience. Mentors tend to be more senior than their mentees, but intergenerational learning can happen between people at any level. 

Mentorship can look like regular one-on-one meetings, or an open-door policy where mentees can approach their mentors with questions and get feedback.

Sponsorship refers to a working relationship that takes mentorship to the next level. Sponsors are usually more senior and become advocates for their protégés. Typically, a sponsorship is formed between two people who have worked together for at least a few months, and the sponsor sees an individual’s growth potential. 

Sponsorship might look like a leader speaking highly of their protégé in an important meeting or advocating for a protégé’s promotion.

People tend to mentor and sponsor those they feel connected to, so more women in leadership tends to mean more women available to bring up the next generation of leaders. 

2. Promoting women to leadership roles

As McKinsey research shows, companies with women in leadership grow faster. Creating a career path where women can grow is a critical first step. When women can clearly visualize their career path and are rewarded for their work, they’re more likely to stay and continue contributing value. 

Sales organizations must seek out opportunities to elevate women with programs to ensure their advancement, like creating an in-house leadership development group or funding management training courses. Identifying top performing women and proactively giving them more responsibility and leadership opportunities on the job becomes key.

Promoting top performers also applies to building diversity from other groups in senior leadership, including people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities. Making your leadership team more diverse demonstrates that your organization appreciates the contributions and voices of people who historically haven’t had a seat at the table.

3. Creating a workplace culture that supports women

In a Society of Saleswomen webinar I attended, Shane Oren, former senior VP of global sales for Recurly, described his approach to building more diverse teams. In the process of hiring for a sales role, he shared how only one person out of 100 total applicants was a woman. So he proactively invited women to apply for the role to make sure he could hire top talent.

Such invitations take more effort, but the payoff is everything listed above. You might source candidates from within your company who have shown promise. You might collaborate with professional groups that support women in sales. 

Once you have a diverse employee population, focus on retention. For example, Clari recently participated in The Skimm’s #ShowUsYourLeave movement, a campaign encouraging companies to be transparent about their paid family leave and support benefits. 

Women often have to choose between career and family, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Organizations need to respond to the changing work environment by offering more flexible work, family leave, and support structures that enable women to stay in the workforce.

For example, look what Clari has done. Over the past two years, we’ve increased paid maternity leave from six weeks to eighteen weeks, with a flexible return-to-work policy. This year, Clari expanded the definition of paid leave from 100% of base salary to 100% of on-target earnings. This change makes it easier for women in our sales team to take advantage of the full eighteen weeks we offer. 

Paternity leave has also increased, which relieves some of the stress on new moms. Remote work and flexibility have empowered women to not only balance, but thrive in their work and personal lives. We’ve also increased our health resources with tools like Maven, a virtual care platform that offers support like mental health for moms and virtual checkups for kids, to further support our families. 

Business grows by supporting everyone

Addressing gender disparities in the workplace starts with recruiting diverse candidates and building programs that support, mentor, and sponsor women. But it doesn’t end there. It’s important that companies take a lead in global conversations about equity. 

By participating in conversations on social channels and challenging organizations to be more transparent, we can continue to make a global change around supporting women. 

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