The Secret Key to the Talent War

Sales organizations can win the talent war by recruiting, developing and retaining female sales professionals, who are currently underrepresented at all levels.

As the current selling environment continues to evolve and require more sophisticated capabilities, finding employees with these skills is proving to be more difficult than ever. In fact, last year, member organizations of CEB — now part of Gartner — cited sourcing high performing sales talent as their number one focus area.

The gender gap in sales

Despite the fact that women make up over half of college graduates in the U.S., they are underrepresented at all levels of the sales organization. In a survey of over 18,000 employees in over 36 countries, CEB research found the sales function has the second biggest gender equity gap of all corporate functions. CEB then identified several ways that companies can act now by creating visibility into leadership opportunities for women, making flexible work schedules the default for all roles and enabling accelerated on-ramps back into leadership for women who temporarily opt out.

Why it matters

Accelerating gender diversity in sales not only expands the potential for finding high-performing talent, but also brings other measurable benefits. Xactly Insights found that women achieve higher quota attainment than men. Additionally, women stay in their roles longer than men, leading to lower attrition costs. Forward-thinking sales organizations are making gender diversity a priority and winning in the talent market.

Source: Carolyn Heminger, Senior Consultant and Jessica Cash, Global Chair of Women at CEB

Launched in 2012, theSkimm has become the news source for millennials.

“Nothing was being done to talk to this audience,” reflect its co-founders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. “We were breaking down what happened that day for our friends, so we started theSkimm to make it easier for them to be smarter.”

The concept? They read the news, and curate it for readers, who can skim their morning newsletter, The Daily Skimm, and be in-the-know.

Startup success       

theSkimm may be relatively new, but Zakin and Weisberg have been successful because they know their audience, currently comprised of more than 5 million subscribers. 

“Every product that we create has to satisfy two needs — to make it easier to be smarter with our signature voice, and to fit into this audience’s existing routines,” they say, adding they’ve worked hard to build a network of advisors and grow an engaged community.

Their daily newsletters are conversational, straightforward and targeted to a crowd who needs basic knowledge of current events, including everything from politics to lifestyle to sports. It’s the type of just-enough news to help young professionals navigate small talk at the office and at social events about a variety of topics. To keep readers tapped into of-the-moment subjects like immigration, theSkimm’s No Excuses platform is particularly handy.

theSkimm also relies on a successful app, which bills monthly for a few dollars, taking the making-you-smart concept further. They send out breaking news alerts to subscribers. And users can stay up to date on current events, shows and books — even sync items to their calendar.

Entrepreneurial advice

As storytellers who knew how to network, the women say they talked to anyone who had built a business or a brand, including people in the media, accountants, designers, lawyers and others. They asked lots of questions.

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know, but we weren’t afraid to ask.” Zakin and Weisberg are grateful they don’t have to be first time founders again. They tell would-be entrepreneurs to find their niche:

“First, find a problem that needs solving. Once you’ve found that, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

They also recommend taking a class to learn how to code; it’s a skill they say will make the hiring process much easier.

Finding an audience

About 80 percent of theSkimm’s readers are women, precisely the audience Zakin and Weisberg were targeting when they started the business. Looking forward to even more professional opportunities, they’re appreciative of all the help and leadership they’ve received.

“We’ve been so fortunate to rely on the advice and expertise of women who have done this before us,” they say. “Every day, we work to pay it forward.”