Both really, right? In my twenty plus years in B2B sales and lead generation, I've often heard the hypothesis: "If you take a male closer vs. a female closer of equal skill, tenure, background, and solution, that the female closer will always win the deal." I am here to state that in today’s business world, I've run into plenty of great female closers... and male.
Perhaps, it's not a question of: "Who's better?"
Michael Gurian, co-author of Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business, was asked in an interview if one gender was built to be a better business leader than another. Here is his response:
Not better. I think what we've been able to prove over the last 20 years is that there is not superiority or inferiority. It's different. That can be broken down. Like negotiation--no matter where we go in the world, and we want to remember that the research that I put in my book is worldwide. This is hard science.
All over the world when you test men and women for facial cue recognition, women test ... better. It's a negotiation tool. This is an example where if you say to yourself--if you're a man, and you say, "Hey, I know everything. I walked into this negotiation, there's like $50 million at stake, I've got it wired." But you're not really great at reading facial cues--and especially if you're one of these high-powered competitive guys who's not very good at reading facial cues. You really want to team up with a woman leader and go into the negotiation as a male-female team, because she'll bring many assets, but one may be that she's better at reading facial cues than you are.
We have this example of a $50 million mistake. The guys thought they nailed it because they presented the data, but their female partner said, "no, no, no. Those two CFOs they needed more info." The guys didn't believe her, but she was reading facial cues that they couldn't read. They didn't believe her and they lost the deal.
We all know the basic trait differences between women and men; there are several books, movies, songs, poetry, whitepapers, studies, sky writings (ok, that is a little far but you know where I am going) on these differences.
Typically, women are multitaskers that have an extreme attention to detail, have a need for organization, communication, and a desire for Win-Win situations. (I learned this from Nicki Joy's Selling is a Woman's Game, 15 Powerful Reasons Why Women Can Outsell Men). Men however typically exhibit leadership, calm under pressure, decisiveness, and confidence. As closers, we use these differences every day in the sales cycle to move the ball forward in closing.
Perhaps the most talked about difference is first impression. While the opposites (male closer/female prospect: female closer/male prospect) seem to prime the candidate and will allow a little more openness in the beginning, a customer’s decision making process is close to being the same every time and more times than not the closer's attention to detail wins over "opposites attract."
Regardless of gender, today's business prospect is looking for the best value for their dollar even more than before. In the past the closer could get away with just using terms like "Return on Investment" and "Total Cost of Ownership." These days, a closer had better be able to back up a solution with hard facts and figures of cost savings and increased efficency: Vendere Partners has found that businesses want an answer to the fundamental question, "How are my staff and I going to be more productive with your solution quickly?" The Return on Investment simply has to be there within six months in most cases.
There is not a more true statement in business today than “I am doing more with less.” With budgets, sales and profits shrinking and unemployment, workload, and employment dissatisfaction rising, the closer today more than ever has to make sure the solution is a right fit and is a great value before they ever attempt to close; it doesn't matter if they are female, male, vegetable, or mineral.