July 08, 2022
How Great Men Show Up For Women in Sales with Lori Richardson

On this episode of the RRH, we’ve got the wo-man, the myth, the legend Lori Richardson. And together we unravel fact from fiction on the gender gap in tech sales and tech sales leadership. And what to do about it. Topics Disc...


On this episode of the RRH, we’ve got the wo-man, the myth, the legend Lori Richardson. And together we unravel fact from fiction on the gender gap in tech sales and tech sales leadership. And what to do about it. 

Topics Discussed

  • Problem statement (5:18)
  • Is the gender gap in tech sales really a “women’s problem”? Really?! (10:10)
  • What does *real* male allyship look like, sound like, and act like? (14:00)
  • What can male individual contributors do to to drive progress en route to leadership roles? (17:50)  

 

Resources Mentioned: 

 

For more Guest:

 

For more Amy

 

Transcript

Amy:

What's up human. Welcome to the revenue real hotline. I'm Amy Hrehovcik. More importantly. I'm excited you decided to join us today. I know you've got a ton of options and I appreciate you. This is a show about all the hard and uncomfortable conversations that arise while generating revenue. And how to think or rethink what you're doing, why you're doing it. And then of course, How to execute differently. And like I said, I'm happy you decided to come along for the ride. Don't forget to follow the show wherever you listen. So you can be notified each time a new episode drops. And do me a favor friend. Don't tell anybody about the show. Let's keep it our little secret. I'm Amy Hrehovcik. This is the revenue real hotline. Enjoy Lori Richardson. Welcome to the revenue real hotline, as I said, as soon as you jumped in, like, I, I had to like kinda check myself and keep my fan girl at bay, but thank you so much for making time for us today. It's it's a pleasure to have you. Oh, it's a

Lori:

pleasure to be here, Amy. Thank you

Amy:

so much. Oh my gosh. All right, Lori. So why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about who you are and what you do every day and then we'll dive right in.

Lori:

Yeah, so I started in sales in my early twenties. I was actually. A teacher. Uh, I worked with young children and I couldn't support my family. I became a single parent. And so I got into technology sales without any technology background I intentionally got into sales. Unlike most women that I hear, everybody says they stumbled into it. I intentionally wanted to make the same as my male counterpart. And I did that for over 15 years. Um, I was an individual contributor with a quota and I got into sales management a few times and then launched my own company, uh, which is actually the 20th year of my consulting firm. Okay. Former sales. Okay. Yeah. And congratulations. Thank you. In 2015, I, I launched women's sales pros, which is a community for more women in sales. We have a group of 50 women sales experts that are a part of that. And they serve as role models, even though they didn't set out to do that. Like none of us wanted to be a woman role model. We wanted to be known for our competency in sales. It just happens that there's some really incredible women in this group who are role models to the women that are up and coming. And the last year I launched the Sheel summit because I noticed there was about 10 or 12 other women in sales groups and organizations. And I wanted to do a collaborative event and get people to realize that we're all doing the same thing. And that it doesn't really matter who you sponsor, who you supported or what you join. That the goal is that we want healthy, diverse, inclusive sales teams. Hmm. So that's what I spend my time on all of those

Amy:

So I love it. And I definitely wanna talk about the, the business and the, the, like the consulting and the work that you do to help, um, organizations use data to hire better. But before we get into that, oh, listeners, by the way, when Lori said that she carried a bag for tech companies, um, we're talking about apple, HP. IBM Siemens. So just to name a few. Uh, couple companies that you may or may not have heard of. So Lori, on the off chance, you haven't heard it yet today. Thank you for, for having carved that path for those that, so that we get to come and stand on the shoulders of giants. Okay. So women in sales, right? I wrote an article for sales hacker two and a half years ago at this point about mental health in sales. Right. It's actually how I met Andy Paul. He found him, brought me on the show. Yeah, it was my first podcast. Went to take on a second article and I started, and it was gonna be gender and tech sales. And it was right around August of 2020. And I started by doing a bunch of interviews with people, right. Just having conversations, men, women, black, white, across the board. And I started each of these conversations with the question. Do we have a problem with gender and sales and tech sales in particular? And if so, how would you define like, gimme the, our problem sentence, like one sentence, two max, what would the problem be? And it was, it floored me that out of all the dudes that I spoke with only one only one actually had their, their fingers on the pulse of the problem. And then of course I fast forward a month when all the stats started coming out about women leaving the workforce and George Floyd. And like, I just, I couldn't write about just gender when we're murdering black people with impunity. And it, it was too hard to watch everybody. I think HBR was calling it a crisis. Right. All the women that were leaving the workforce. And it was just, it was too painful, frankly, to yeah. Write and study about that at the moment. So I had to put it on pause, but that. I'm curious to hear from you, Lori Richardson. I'm assuming that we agree that there is a problem, but like how would you define, what would you say our problem statement is?

Lori:

Yeah, I, I usually say women are underrepresented at every level in sales and the higher you go, the, the less women there are. At at the same time, we know that women can be amazing leaders. We know that women can do amazingly well in sales. And so there are some societal, uh, corporate and, and issues within women ourselves. And it's kind of the three kind of tugging at each other that make it, I don't like to use the word vicious cycle, but it, it keeps going around and around because it's not just one thing. It's not like, well, women need to do this or that. And some people will say, Other people say that. Well, corporate needs to do. Or it's, it's a societal issue. So we have to get a handle on all three or a pipeline issue.

Amy:

Yeah. Right. A pipeline. Well, don't forget about the mommy track.

Lori:

Yeah. Right, right. That's right. We there's a lot of flame to go around. And with women leaving the workforce, we had a problem before that. So my book was gonna come out, um, right around when the pandemic hit and I too had only focused on women and I realized I need to focus on a more diverse viewpoint of what a sales team should look at. It's not just white males. And just adding women doesn't solve it. And so. So that's why among other things, it's, it's just taken some extra time to get that together.

Amy:

Well, there was something that you said actually was a post that you did. It was, uh, pointing at the venture capital and some of the, the stats and really the trickle down effects because you know, the gender gap in leadership, in tech, in particular, it's not, it's not unique into just the sales department. It is obviously one of the worst departments in one of the worst industries by the numbers. However, The thing that struck me about this post that you, you nailed, which is that we've been flat progress wise at the leadership rank for something like 14 years. And elite. Yeah. And we're actually moving backwards.

Lori:

Yeah.

Amy:

Vicious cycle is one way to look at it or zero progress.

Lori:

Yeah. Right.

Amy:

And then I go back to that, that experience of having asked all these people, what's our problem. And there wasn't like a, a strong understanding of the problem. And so then I think, okay, well there we're scratching our heads about like, why nobody's making any progress, let's start with that. And I'm remind one of my favorite books again at HBR that they did, it was like was, I think this was from two years ago now, but it was like, what's your problem. And how this is step one, right? If you wanna go about solving the root cause of something, as opposed to chasing symptoms indefinitely, You gotta take some time to get at that problem. Okay. So that said, I was listening to the episode that you did on your show with precious. And you talked about how you went to a, a conference recently and you set up a boost with women in sales, and you made reference to an observation that you had particularly about the people that we're walking by and the level of attention or awareness. And so would you just tell us that story quickly? Yeah. Cause I wanna talk about, I wanna talk about.

Lori:

Yeah, I, I had a booth at a conference and it was for women's sales pros. And we had a whole host of books about sales in general, but they were all written by women. And I always post and share when people are on LinkedIn sharing the 10 books that the guys like to, you know, recommend. And, and I'll say here, here are some other books. They're not better. They're just different. And they, you know, they give a different point of view. And so we were raffling off those books.

Amy:

Mm-hmm.

Lori:

What was funny was that many of the men that came by who, who weren't aware of who we were or who I was, they just kept walking. Like they had no interest to even look to see like, oh, what's going on? What are you doing? There were, there were a few people that did, but there was more than one person that would say, oh, well, you know, I'll send over that gal that's working at her booth. Thinking, this is a women's issue. We don't need that. We don't need any of that. So I, I was also among the neighbors in the booth that were mostly young white males who are just talking among themselves. And I made it a point to reach out on both sides and, and let them know what I was doing. And you know, what we were doing. And by the end we were, you know, we were, we were fast friends, but if I hadn't reached out, I know that they wouldn't have. And it's interesting because people will it's an, an ageism issue. Like it's an older generation, that's not good with women in sales and the younger generation is gonna solve all that. And I haven't seen that because I just I've seen some great things among some companies. But as we saw in what I posted recently on LinkedIn, about up upstart companies that have male founders, and they're not putting women in revenue roles. That was that survey. That Jesse Ulet had been working on. So it's not a generational issue. It's something that we consciously all have to work on together, men and women to solve. And I know we can solve it. Um, we just need to align everything better.

Amy:

Hmm. I know we can solve it too, but at the same time, I've made my peace with, it's probably not gonna be solved in my lifetime, but I'm committed to being a part of the solution while I'm. I actually, like, I felt a it's one of my mentors rode Jefferson is it's he's in sales enablement land and he has to remind me often, Amy, take off the superhero Cape, please. What do you do to re Charlie, go read a book, go walk on the beach or whatever. And so I'm happy to report that there's progress, but yeah, no, I, this is a massive issue. Okay. So I think one of the challenges with this topic, or really communication in general is that words are so relative. They just, they mean different things to different people and be better or great ally chip, like what even that concept is relative. And I think part of the challenge when I see, or when I, when I hear stories like you shared about your conference on the podcast is. It's like a, it's a it's, it's a problem that doesn't affect men, right? Like to your point, you said this is a, a women problem. I'll send the women over and it reminds me like, have you ever read white fragility?

Lori:

No, I haven't read it, but I have seen it.

Amy:

You've heard of it. Okay. So I, this book is like a. Eye opener, right. Multiplied by 20,000, just so we're very clear. I'm putting myself into this category of room for improvement. And I know that when it comes to going after societal stuff, like gender roles that is just baked into everything around us. So I have to work hard on myself every single day to uncondition myself. But that said part of what struck me about white fragility and why I've mentioned it is because when we think about race, Or conversations about race. Part of the challenge when you're a white person and thinking about race is we're almost conditioned to think that this is a conversation that doesn't have to do with us because our race is essentially it's the whatever fill in the blank. Right. And nothing could be further from the truth. Right. And in order for us to actually have these conversations, we have to be willing to show up in them. Right. And be uncomfortable through. But that is, I think, a big piece of what's missing. On the tech stuff. And I, like, I gotta say Lori, like when I, I first started hearing your, your content, I don't know, maybe like two years ago, probably when I was doing the research for this article. And even then it was very much like, oh, we gotta fix women's confidence. And we gotta like all the things. And it was just, I was so over at that point, all the things that women need to do fucking differently. And personally being exhausted from having to bend and shift and change like I'm from fucking Jersey. Like we like keep it real just on principle. But I started this podcast because I just got tired of people telling me when to rock the boat, how to rock the boat, what time of day to rock the boat. And it just it's, it's exhausting. And so I wanna bring this conversation back let's let's talk to the men for a second. What Lori, in your opinion, does a great ally do on a daily basis. What are the actions?

Lori:

Yeah. Well, first of all, I was raised to not rock the boat, just so you know, but it wasn't just me. My brothers were raised that way too by my, my dad was like, don't rock the, just don't stand out. You know? So mm-hmm, it's interesting how I turned out, despite that Yeah. So, first of all, we can't change anything in business and sales without the support and strong involvement of men. So men, this isn't a conversation women can have and just make things happen. We need men because sales was built by men and business was built by men. It was all men. They're still

Amy:

fucking sitting in the leadership positions where they make decisions.

Lori:

Yeah. And so there are a number of different things that we could talk all day about this probably, but I, I think the key points are that on LinkedIn, it, if you're a male ally to women in sales, um, comment on post. About women in sales. I know on my podcast posts, there are very few men that post and I will reach out because again, it's like a women's thing. It's like, oh, this is for the women. I might tell a woman about it. If I hold an event like the Sheel summit, uh, some men will invite women on their team to join, and I want women to join, but I also want the men to join too because it's not the topics that we talk about are universal. And it's to improve sales in general. So don't think that this is just about women. I think that's the first thing. And they're very simple things that people can do by showing their supported LinkedIn to the point where I actually invite men that I know to comment and some of them will do it normally. Um, you mentioned Andy Paul, he's a great allied for more women and diversity and inclusion in sales and Ryan reer. And some other many others that, that I know will do that, but I think that's the first thing. And then secondly, if you're in a position of power and influence in an organization, recommend women for different roles. This is where we can make a big difference because traditionally men are promoted based on potential and women are promoted based on experience. Yeah. Until a woman has actually done something, give her a chance, let her let the strong seller for many years, rise into leadership and be the CRO. Because there's so many men that will take on roles. I always give the example of president of the United States. Nobody ever did that role. Why do all these men think they can do? It's been men traditionally, you know. We've only had men in that role. And I just think why couldn't a woman be CRO? Why couldn't a woman be head of sales? Why don't more women get considered. So that's part of it. And then we do need to build that pipeline. We do need more. In sales roles so that they can be promoted. That's typically what happens in sales leadership is it's a promoted role from sales. So we need to keep looking in areas and places where we haven't before to build the pipeline. If the pipeline's flat, we don't have women in the pipeline, you can't just keep doing what you're doing and try to get more women cuz it's not gonna happen. So that's another thing is that we need to. Work on ways to make sure we're encouraging women to apply. That they know we're a company where they would fit in and we would support them. And so there's a lot that needs to be done at that level as well. So that's three different areas I think that that men can be great. Um, supporters and allies and, and a part of the solution. I,

Amy:

I like that. I like that. I will say I would add. A couple things. Number one, if you're a dude and you're selling and you're maybe not in an influential position, there's absolutely things that you can do as a peer. Yeah. Hard stop. And so it's not like, oh, we're just gonna wait until like we get to leadership. So that that's, that's the first thing. The second thing is, yeah. If, if you haven't actually done something this week, in my opinion, I've shifted. Right. Silence. And doing nothing are now a part of the problem. And given my definition of what the problem is, silence in the face of what? Right. Are you in a room? With a bunch of sales dudes and there's no women there, right? Not mentioning that or saying that out loud is a part of the problem. Also something that you can do. Similarly, when somebody comes in whispers to you at the end of the conference, how everybody's gonna go to a strip club and we're just gonna try to keep it on the DL so that like none of the women on the team, like, first of all, we can see you gentlemen, we can fucking see you. Number one, number two, when you do not speak up in those moments, that is a part of the problem. I think that not educating yourself on the scope of the problem is a part of the problem. So that's also another brilliant thing that you can do. Go fucking read up on code switching on the confidence gap. Oh my God, this is, this is one for me. Like, okay. So the confidence gap is certainly a thing. The challenge though, is that the confidence gap is a S curve. Meaning there's two points that are notable. So anybody just listening, uh, I'm physically drawing these in the air. Hopefully Lori Canella like this ridiculousness that I'm doing. But anyway, when. The point where women feel the least confident and men feel the most confident early twenties, right? This is when you see guys coming outta school. Oh, I could do that. I could take on the world, whatever that, and that is absolutely a timeframe where women need some help with the confidence, for sure. Okay. The other side of it though, Laurie care to take a guess when men feel the least confident and women feel the most C. Hmm.

Lori:

I, I have,

Amy:

I don't know, late thirties now what happens when a man feels less confident and threatened by, and also a woman is feeling the most confident, right? That's also that pivotal moment when we're losing women in the leadership positions. Right. And so I think part of the conversation around why are women leaving or why are women not being promoted, has to do with the level of hostility that you start to hit as you move up the ranks. And so I think for another piece of it is as guys like when you're in that window that time period. Right? I think we can all do a far, far, far better job of questioning our own triggers. Like why do I feel so damn triggered right now? And this is women too, right? We've all been conditioned to look at like, oh guy going after it. Like that's a leader in the making and a woman is bossy. Right? We've all been there. So it's not just men, but that other side of the confidence gap is a massive thing that we don't talk about. Any final thoughts on that?

Lori:

Yeah. Another thing that men can do in individual contributor roles, what have you is to, to learn more about all the different types of bias that there is. And learn how they can pick up on things that are said in meetings. When a man interrupts a woman to note. And say, you know, I think Amy was not done. Amy, could you finish your thought or that was Amy's idea. Hey, that's great. Maybe we should do that. And because that still happens all the time in meetings. So there are definite things that you don't have to be in a position of power to make an impact. For sure

Amy:

that wraps another installment of the revenue real hotline. I'd like to thank my guest for being so damn real and for sharing their insights and for, of course, being so much fun. And I'd like to thank you to listeners. It means the world. And I appreciate you. If you have any thoughts or comments or experiences you feel inclined to share head straight over to revenue, rail.com. There's a new join. The conversation feature on the right side of the page. I am all damn ears. Final thought. We are introducing a coaching aspect to the show. So anyone who's brave enough to dig into an account strategy or outbound strategy session. That's where we kick things off. Please do follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. So you'll always have the latest episode downloaded. If you want to contact me, I'm at Amy revenue, rail.com. If you wanna follow me on social. Twitter is Amy underscore UFF check, and LinkedIn is linkedin.com/amy UFF check. This episode was produced by the fabulous Neen Feedler rock, man. And I appreciate you too friend. And of course, whatever you do, don't tell anybody about the show. Let's keep it our little secret. Until next time, all I'm Amy re hub check. This is the revenue real hotline, happy selling.

Lori Richardson Profile Photo

Lori Richardson

B2B Sales & Revenue Growth Strategist @ Score More Sales | Founder @ Women Sales Pros