APS women in sales forum receives enthusiastic welcome

Samantha Wessels, co-chair of the APS inclusion and diversity working group addresses the women in sales forum

May 16, 2018

The first women in sales forum hosted by the Association of Professional Sales (APS) has received rave reviews.

The buzz on social media and in the room afterwards applauded the “empowering event” which was praised for offering practical support and inspirational advice for women across the industry.

The meeting last night in central London welcomed both women and men saying the aim was to be “inclusive without being exclusive.”

Samantha Wessels, co-chair of the APS inclusion and diversity working group said they wanted to promote an “open-to-all profession were you are valued for being yourself.”  She offered encouragement to women in the room, saying “You deserve a place in sales. Back yourself and step out of your comfort zone”.

Speakers included Julie Holmes, a 20-year sales and marketing veteran, and branding expert Jennifer Holloway who gave networking tips on everything from remembering names to how to deliver a convincing handshake.

Julie’s compelling message, “we can sell better when we’re more confident,” used persuasive stats to reinforce her presentation. In a section called “mind the gap,” Julie said the performance of women working in sales is, on average, a minimum of 3 per cent higher than men’s, while their pay is about $25,000 less.

But, she said to the women present, “we can cross the chasm”. She pointed out that “women build more diverse teams.. and when our teams reflect our prospects, we get better company results.” She said having women in sales was not a challenge, but an opportunity. “The balance is not women, or men, but what motivates us, and what our skills are.”

Julie Holmes also urged women to support one another by “finding a buddy and shouting about them”. She said messages about individual accomplishments are vital because people then “equate success with both genders”.

Julie Holmes, sales veteran and inspirational speaker

Jennifer Holloway who has worked in PR for big-name brands like Santander, Vodafone, RBS and Bupa now runs her own company focusing on branding at a personal level. In a talk filled with practical tips she said “being successful is being yourself”.

She explained how to “read a room” and introduce yourself to groups and individuals with confidence and ease. To illustrate, Jennifer invited women at the event to step forward for a practical demonstration. On handshakes, she explained how to “avoid the dead fish” effect and set out the dos and don’ts to be confident when meeting and greeting. Jennifer offered a private critique for the handshakes of people in the room so they could leave the event self-assured.

Her other tips on remembering names were eagerly greeted. Jennifer said, “make it visual” and think of an association that you will remember, repeat the name back to the person you’ve just met, and even check the spelling: “So if I meet someone called Claire, I’ll often go, ‘Is that with an i?’ It makes no difference to how I pronounce it, but it’s just giving me time to process it.”

To demonstrate, APS CEO, Andy Hough, who admitted like many in the room that he “wasn’t great with names” introduced himself to three saleswomen who came up to the stage. At the end of Jennifer’s talk, Andy was applauded as he confidently and correctly, repeated the names of the people he had just met.

Jennifer Holloway, personal brand expert and best-selling author

Latisha Morgan Corporate Account Manager at Toshiba TEC UK said on social media: “Every woman in the room tonight including myself raised their hands when asked if they worked in a ‘male-dominated industry’, but we also all raised our hands when asked if we were successfully achieving our targets.

“Thank you to the APS for hosting a great event and bringing these conversations to a fair and open forum.

“What an incredibly empowering event, where I connected with an abundance of leading sales professionals (women and men) sharing expertise and insights across our industries.”

Janice Gordon‏ a visiting fellow from Cranfield University and an expert in key account management and business-to-business marketing said the women in sales launch was “great evening” with “great tips”.

Andy Hough described the event as a an excellent start to the APS’ inclusivity and diversity initiative. He commented: “We are committed to supporting our members to tackle corporate failures in inclusivity and diversity.

“The APS is campaigning for a sales profession where everyone can be who they are, without fear or favour and be supported to be the best they can be.”

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