Diversity: it’s the phrase popping up at more and more forward-thinking organisations globally.

Aside from a natural shift towards more inclusive workplaces in a progressive working world, a growing body of research shows diverse teams outperform their competition across a number of key metrics, including profitability, innovation and productivity. In other words, diversity is good for people and good for business.

Diverse teams by their very nature include a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds, so it makes sense they’re able to find better solutions to problems and drive better outcomes – and sales teams are no exception. Here are a handful of advantages you can expect to see with a more diverse sales team, as well as tips for promoting diversity at your workplace.

Diverse team benefits in sales

Fostering diversity in sales comes with a number of significant advantages:

  • Connect with customers more effectively

Empathy-based selling is critical to success, especially when you’re selling to a varied customer base.  Having diverse sales reps and leaders who understand different lifestyles and cultures gives you the ability to speak directly to broader audiences. Harvard Business Review surveyed 1800 professionals and found that a sales team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152 per cent likelier than another team member to understand that client, and therefore can more effectively cater to their specific needs.

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  • Eliminating ‘groupthink’

The groupthink phenomenon – striving for consensus in a group to the point of poor decision-making – is especially common when a group of people come from similar backgrounds and have shared experiences. Conversely, a diverse workforce helps foster an environment where varying points of view can be freely shared among employees. The same study by Harvard Business Review found that this “outside the box” thinking stimulates innovation in business.

  • Attract the best sales talent

Recruiting from a slim talent pool, whether due to unconscious bias or organisational practices, puts you at risk of overlooking top sales talent simply because they don’t fit the profile you’re familiar with. Hiring people from different backgrounds not only ensures you’re scoping out the best talent but also fosters a positive working environment, leading to your organisation being seen favourably by even more great talent.

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How to build diverse work teams in sales

  1. Check your biases

We all have personal biases that impact our judgment, whether consciously or unconsciously. During the recruitment process, have a range of team members involved to help combat individual biases and ensure a fair decision-making process.

  1. Do away with sales stereotypes

Gone are the days when ‘salesperson’ meant a man in a white collared shirt and not much else. These days, sales success relies on having teams with a diverse range of communication styles and relationship-building skills. The more varied your team is, the broader your customer base will be.

  1. Formalise your diversity strategy

Harvard Business Review found that just five years after a company implements a college recruitment program focused on women, the amount of women of all races in management roles grew by approximately 10 per cent on average. Likewise, with a program focused on minorities, the amount of black men in management positions grew by 8 per cent and the amount of black women in management roles grew by 9 per cent. Make diversity a priority through formal recruitment programs so it’s a must-have rather than the optional ‘nice to have’.

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