May 14, 2018
This week the Association of Professional Sales (APS) is hosting a special forum to support and encourage women in sales.
The event tomorrow evening, staged by our inclusion and diversity working group, is part of our wider campaign for a broad-based sales force.
Our research shows that organisations which reflect the diversity of their customers have a much better chance of building businesses that prosper, so this is a moral principle which makes business sense.
Samantha Wessels who is co-chair of the APS diversity team agrees that having an inclusive workforce is a key to business success: “You have to embrace everyone. We are championing the advancement of an open-to-all sales profession where being yourself is valued.”
Samantha, whose day job is SVP group sales operations and enablement for IT company Dimension Data, has worked in sales and marketing since her weekends as a teenager on a cosmetic counter. Now she manages and motivates globally diverse teams to boost market growth.
“The whole point of diversity is to drive innovation and more business value and diversity of thought,” says Samantha, “but then you sit in an organisation and in a meeting and you’re often dismissed, or your idea is dismissed, your background is dismissed or you aren’t asked for your opinion.”
“So how do we create the sense of belonging? How do we get rid of that unconscious bias? You know, how do we lower the hierarchy and those power structures. How do we get over that? How do you connect with people?
“We want people who can help drive that for us in their organisations from an inclusive perspective, and with that diversity will come.”
Samantha says this is not just about gender, it’s about valuing people to get the best out of them: “We definitely don’t have enough women in sales but this is not just about women it’s about having an open-to-all plan where you are valued just being yourself.”
Samantha Wessels says she was attracted to work with the APS because “as a professional body, it’s really driving the professionalism of sales. It adds a lot of value to its members through its talks and programmes. I think it’s playing a critical role in elevating the profession of sales.”
For the past three years, the Association of Professional Sales and our partners at EY, the global accountancy and consulting firm, have been researching and developing the economic arguments for inclusivity and diversity in the sales industry. The white paper, produced with EY, called Performance Leadership – how diverse and inclusive sales teams are seizing competitive advantage – reveals that whilst gender, ethnic and cultural diversity are morally right for business, they also provide greater return for companies and shareholders.
Our Women In Sales event is on Tuesday, 15 May from 6–9pm at Andaz, 40 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7QN.
The Association of Professional Sales is the leading community for sales people. We are a not-for-profit organisation, reinvesting in our profession to build standards, trust and education.