Since my wife, Laura, and I founded Selling Power in 1981, it was our objective to create a positive platform for the professional sales community. So imagine my surprise when this tweet from a sales consultant appeared on my timeline:
The 18 characters “Totally disgusting!” sounded like an alarm. But what’s alarming is the complete inaccuracy of the tweet and the harm it caused to us. After working diligently for over thirty years to serve the professional sales market, I was – and am – alarmed that anyone would send such a thoughtless and malevolent message. But that’s the downside of social media.
That tweet was fired off prematurely. At the time, the conference speaker line-up and the agenda was still a work in progress. Of the final 26 speakers, our sponsors selected 14 and of the 10 remaining speakers that we selected, 5 are women.
In the years we’ve been publishing Selling Power, we’ve reached out to the sales community to cover every innovation and tried to keep ahead of the market. One of the areas we began covering back in the mid ’80s was women in sales. We profiled or interviewed many who’d made a significant contribution either to sales or to motivating others to succeed, including (and here I list only a few because to list them all would take up the rest of this post) Mary Kay Ash, Venita Van Caspel, Meg Whitman, Anne Mulcahy, Danica Patrick, Maria Sharapova, Mary Lou Retton, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Oprah Winfrey, and many others. We also profiled many women sales managers and reps who were doing well in the field. In fact, we wrote our first cover story on women in selling in 1983. Who else was doing that?
Our company, Selling Power Inc. employs more women than men. Over 2/3 of our staff are women. My wife is the editor of Selling Power magazine, one daughter is the editorial director and another daughter is VP of Sales and Marketing and she also runs our Sales 2.0 events serving over 2,000 sales leaders in four different locations in the US and the UK. I don’t have the slightest bias against women, and I would not want my daughters or wife to be discriminated against. The ratio of women to men running our Sales 2.0 events is 90% to 10%.
It’s easy to fly off the handle, tap out 140 characters, besmirch someone’s good name and efforts, all in order to get some attention or a reaction. After all the hard work we have done to support the entire sales expert community, it’s dissappointing. And does no good for the sales community. We’re about building, not tearing down. We’re about staying positive in the face of adversity, not dragging people into a muddy bog.
Within days of Jill’s first tweet, a number of women sales trainers, consultants and authors joined her crusade, not knowing that the conference agenda was incomplete, and not knowing that our hands are tied when our sponsors decide who in their company, or of their customers, would be best suited to represent them and provide useful insights to the audience.
Jill Konrath founded the group of 30 women sales experts some time ago with the goal to “share news.”
In the past we have offered a number of Sales Shebang members free passes to our events and shared their expertise with our Selling Power audience in print and online. Two Sales Shebang members have previously spoken at our events, and a third is joining us at the upcoming event.
I have had the privilege of contributing and working with some of the most amazing women in America like Oprah, Hillary Clinton or Mary Kay Ash and I deeply appreciate their contributions to our world.
Do we withhold our support of women for any reason?
Jill Konrath admitted in her email that she’d held a grudge against Selling Power magazine because seven years ago, we researched and featured the top earning sales keynote speakers and all of them were men. Jill wanted to see us feature more women sales speakers. Any magazine subscriber can go online and within minutes find that Selling Power has written about Jill Konrath and her work at least ten times in the past ten years. (Search “Jill Konrath” on www.sellingpower.com.)
What’s really behind all this brouhaha?
Jill Konrath is a respected thought leader in the field of selling. She has written books that have helped thousands of salespeople improve their professional skills. We also share her view that not enough women get promoted in corporate America and we agree that we are going through a period of equalization. As more women move up to sales management, American business will grow, sales will improve, and the power of women will rise. I applaud her vigilance and I’m glad we were able to correct the initial misperceptions that started this whole tweet-o-rama.
So here is the happy ending. A 140-character peace offering from Jill Konrath that was tweeted yesterday:
I think the US Government should take as an example how regular people can figure out how to reach across the aisle to resolve differences. We need more thoughtful, positive resolutions in this world where it’s easy to tear things down, but difficult to build something of value. That’s what we’ve always tried to do at Selling Power and that’s what we’ll continue doing in the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
P.S. I hope to see you at the Sales 2.0 Sales Performance Management Conference in San Francisco, Oct 16-17. It’s not too late to register today. As a way of thanking you for reading all the way to the end I am offering you this special discount code SPMCircle to get 50% off.