There is no question that men and women can both be very successful in sales and business development roles. However, the way that they go about it can be very different. In general, men seem comfortable with taking more risks, while women seem comfortable doing more work.
In fact, both risk-taking and hard work are equally important to getting a result with an important bid or proposal.
- Taking risks is important, because pitching for business is very competitive and we need to find a way of coming out on top. Clear winners take risks without fear of loss, and are prepared to stand out and be different.
- Doing the work is also important, because we need to build innovation, best practice, and continual improvement so we have something to sell. Hard workers deliver on these promises, and are very good at driving bids and putting proposals together.
One way to support both these factors is to aim for gender balance in your bid team. If your team is full of guys, you might find a bias towards taking risks and generating ideas, but the actual work and follow-up might be lacking. If you have a team with many women, you might have a lot of willing workers, but they might need some encouragement to take more risks and overcome any perceived fear of failure.
It’s also a good idea look at your own preferences and make sure that you put people around you — of both genders — who can do the things that you find a challenge. If you're a risk taker and big picture person, you need detail people around you. If you are great at getting things done, and good at the detail, you might need help with the bigger picture, and encouragement to be bolder when making decisions about the opportunities to pursue.