I give speeches and workshops and have written a book, published scores of blogs and published many newsletters. Most are about the differences in the masculine and feminine approaches to work – and the strengths of both approaches. Rather than stereotyping men and women, I work with the concepts of “masculine” and “feminine.” To define them, I use a prototype named Max (Maxwell or Maxine) to represent the masculine and a prototype named Fran (Frances or Francis) represents the feminine approach. I may call Max “he” and Fran “she” even though either can be male or female. Both women and men have both “Max” and Fran” in them.
I explore differences in how Max and Fran see the world and operate in 10 areas. At the core, Fran values relationships more than status. As a result, she prefers a flat structure of relative equals to a hierarchy. She collaborates rather than competes and persuades rather than dominating a decision. She shares power rather than thinking of power as something she has “over” someone. In her speaking style, she sounds less confident even when she is very sure of what she is saying; sounding sure of herself can make someone else feel “less than” and can damage relationships. It is not as comfortable for Fran to toot her own horn; while it may enhance her status, it may also harm her connections.
In my workshops, I demonstrate both the strengths and limitations of Fran’s approach. One limitation shows up when Fran is doing business development – promoting her products or services or herself. Fran may find it uncomfortable to use her network for business purposes. She may sell “softly” to avoid being “crass.” This really limits Fran’s sales outcomes!
Recently I met Liz Wendling. Through her company, Insight Business Consultants, she is an expert in the area of women in sales. I help women understand Fran’s tendencies so they can develop more effective sales approaches. Liz actually teaches how to sell effectively! In our conversation, I saw how much I am Fran in the sales context. I know this stuff yet am still uncomfortable selling what I offer! Guess what. I hired Liz and am working with her. I decided to follow my own advice!
Have you seen how feminine approaches can undermine sales effectiveness? Share what you have done to sell more effectively.