Simply Sales Talk: Sexist behavior is common

Jes 18 Comments

"Women can't survive in the sales industry."

That's what my customer said. And a ball of fire instantly rose near my chest. What impudence! What insolence! I can't believe he felt this way and said it to me directly. It was as if he don't expect me to last very long in this industry, and he spelt it out that women should just find a good husband and stay home to have kids.
Asking us to shut up? (Source: Jeremy Keith at flickr)
That is not all. When I say that I am trying hard to prove him wrong, he actually said that it is needless to do so. "女的不用啦!" He just dismissed it, as statistically speaking and from experience, there are not many women excelling in most industries. Women only need to find a good husband and that is all that's worthwhile to a woman's life. What is up with guys for thinking this way? Aren't we independent enough to live apart from men and to earn some recognition for our ownself? Even if our society has advanced enough to allow women to work and vote (not in every country though) and be considered as more than a procreating device, seems like the minds of some men are not catching on to this idea.

He is only 32 years old, poised to take over a huge company and is working more than 12 hours a day. He is actually quite good looking, if I care to admit, as 认真的男人是最性感的. He likes working, feels a sense of achievement in work, and finds that the non-working part is wasting of time. I actually feel sorry for him, for only knowing how to work and not knowing how to enjoy. He may be rich, successful, knowledgeable but he will never know the joys of just relaxing, of starting a family, of a social life. And if most young singaporeans are like that, it is no wonder that the number of marriages and kids are dipping all the way down.
Work to death? (Source: Wikipedia)
After the initial fury and indignance, I started to wonder if there was any truth in his thinkings. Frankly, sales is indeed a male dominated job. Being a guy will normally be taken seriously as a potential candidate to climb up to a management position. A guy will also have the freedom to travel without the chance of pregnancy to hinder them, the inclusion into the circle to drink and entertain customers till the late night, and less of a stigma to go overseas alone.

"Too many women in too many countries speak the same language, of silence" - Hillary Clinton
I did not debate with him for very long, as this is what is happening currently. Come to think of it, I actually take that as a challenge. I just don't like it when he don't even think that ladies could be smart and talented. It's just the way he phrased it, so rudely in such a degrading tone. I am working hard, not just to prove to him, but to prove to myself that I can make it too.
Although his comments don't target me personally, I start to wonder whether he is secretly questioning my abilities. Oh well, I guess I just have to really put in more effort so as to succeed and earn everyone's respect. Maybe this doesn't applies only to me.. but to all women out there, working to climb to the top.
You go, girl!


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  1. You have fire in you which is what counts, and it doesn't matter if you're guy or girl!

    1. Hi RetailTrader,

      Thanks for the encouragement! That's what I thought but time and again, I encounter such sexist behavior and it turns me off. Most importantly and hopefully, my bosses don't feel the same! Haha.

  2. I encountered such sexist behavior when I was doing sales... Not explictly but implicitly but best part about sales is that numbers do the talking 😄

    1. Hi Joyce,

      You understand what I am talking about then. Maybe the guys are jealous so they are finding something to dissuade us.... and the numbers sometimes go haywire, regardless of the effort we put in! =S

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Joyce,

    I am glad you pointed out you are doing it to prove to yourself - and not to him ;)

    If you are proving to him, that makes you no different from that misogynist.

    When a man displays "bravado", it means he has insecurities and self-doubt to hide...

    For all you know, he is also trying to overcome the "you are too young to take over a company" prejudices by older men. That's why he is working his butts off 12 hours a day. And some old men maybe sniggering that by a mere dangling of a carrot, they got some young man willing to help them become richer...

    Wars are fought by young men; the spoils of war are divided by old men.

    The Art of Machiavelli manipulations include the use of a stick.

    Sometimes we can get someone to work even harder for us simply by saying they are no good. It works best with people who needs the approval of others to have any self-esteem ;)

    1. Hi SMOL,

      I know you secretly have a crush on Joyce but it's Jes here... (Didn't you suan Derek previously hahaha!)

      Yeah, no point proving to him because his opinion doesn't carry so much weight! From what you said, seems like being old is better with the money taken from the hard work of the young.. but I don't want to be old leh! Haha.

      I am quite sure he has his own insecurities and prejudice like what you said. Plus, I will work hard regardless of whether he poke me or not, what's the art of it? =P

    2. Opps! A Freudian slip!

      Especially embarrassing when I've just poked Derek on it...

      I sure hope Joyce's ACCIB is not reading here ;)

      Hee hee.

  4. Don't win the argument but lose the sales! 😉

    1. Hi LP,

      Great to see you again. Woah, you always see the big picture huh? Actually I prefer the candour of the argument which leads to a more personal conversation. If I win the argument and lose the sales then that means the customer is really not professional! Haven't seen such people before, phew!

  5. Just kick his balls and ask him if he's living In stone age

    1. Wahaha Jimmy, that's funny! I kind of admire his balls you know, very honest to me even though I will definitely judge him based on his opinions. Well, let's embrace diversity =P

  6. Jes, on the other hand, I have experienced occasions where the other party (male) is more interested to talk with the females :p

    In my experience I have encountered sales teams from Thailand and Vietnam with very good gender balances while SG and Malaysia are almost entirely all-male

    1. Hi CP,

      That's unprofessional.. to only want to talk to ladies because she is a lady... haha.

      I get what you are saying, Vietnam and Thailand indeed have all the sales ladies. A few points to note: The managers or high levels are all men, the regional people are all men, and the men normally like to set up their own business. Not sexist, just gender inequality at work. =(

  7. if this is indeed a conversation between you and him ( the young boss), it does reflects your personality to a certain extent. No right or wrong, just what you are.

    I would say there are areas in sales that require meticulous attention to details which many women may tend to do better here though not necessarily. In sales, there is only one way to say you are good or no. The results? everything else is what people wants to use it to comfort themselves.

    If you meet a stranger and for some strange reason refer you to someone and this guy is in the inner circle and within a short period of time , you know this tycoon, datuk, encik, puan puan or datin, then when the sales is closed , you can spin whatever story you want.

    Contrary, you slog like a pig, 25 hours a day, back on weekends, glued to the phone and pc but sales still dodge you far far away, then maybe, one needs to review the processes.

    Often, it is not what you say that determine the outcome but how you put it across..........that softens the approach (think akido.......follow through with the resistance)

    Fire power and fire power though create lots of sparks but also lots of tension, suspicions, distrust and build walls..........In sales, drinking coffee with enemy and enjoying it requires a state of mind.........and that takes time to cultivate............

    My pennies view - leave people alone , let them say what they want, go about your own business (it should be your ALL) and if you can find time to be angry, felt insulted, whatever, you have lose that focus.

    We never know the motive why certain people do certain things but we definitely can control how we respond and we have the choice.

    All the very best to your sales

    1. Hi there!

      I like and agree fully with your statement that 'it is not what you say but how you say it'. This blog is about me venting out but I do not vent out at my customer, just argue with him and then let it go.

      I have feelings regarding to what people say, I will feel something about it regardless of whether they were talking about me personally. Maybe I am not zen-like enough. The differing opinions will lead me to blog about it and think out loud. I don't think feelings kept me from being focused, I think it's the contrary. It's how I know what I feel strongly about and think of why I feel that way.

      I do understand where you are coming from and thank you for the insight. Anyway, this post happened 5 years ago, I just re-published it and might do an update for this customer soon. Appreciate that you drop by and hope to hear more of your opinions =)

    2. Anonymous,

      Master, I have much to learn from you! I am slowly starting to experience what you have described and am actively pursuing that mindset.


  8. Hi Jes,

    Male chauvinism is inevitable everywhere. In Singapore, if I am not wrong, things are already much better. The 2 years of NS helps to level the playing field although I would have to admit it might never be equal.

    And in case I come across as harsh, I am a feminist at heart, just that I am a more pragmatic one. =)

    1. Hi 15HWW,

      Oh yes, I think Singapore is a good place for women to get equal chances but more could be done on gender equality at the top management of course. I mean to get promoted due to a woman's merits and not just solely to get gender equality, that would be wrong. Just gotta highlight that some guys are still resistant to change, that's all.

      I don't think you are harsh at all, don't worry. I am glad that you are a feminist but you probably wouldn't see such sexist behavior in teaching industry, I meant no offence though. Thanks for reading 3 posts at one go, haha.