Why gender is still on the prospecting agenda in 2020

Posted on: March 16, 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Category: Prospecting

Why gender is still on the prospecting agenda in 2020

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It’s time to revisit how gender is affecting prospecting success.

What difference does it make in 2020 if a prospecting email is sent by a man or a woman – and what difference does the gender of the recipient make?

As always, we’ll let the data do the talking.

We’ve crunched and decoded data from nearly 30,000 prospecting emails to analyse what effect on lead rate a male or female sender and receiver has.


We’ve actually been here before.

A couple of years ago we had a real shock when we ran a similar exercise. 

For those that slept, here are the results from our last survey of the terrain (‘Should gender be on your prospecting agenda’).

Back then we looked through a gender lens at around 10,000 mails taken from recent campaigns. The campaigns were chosen at random, but they represented a good cross-section of industries.

We found that the resulting lead rates were heavily skewed by the perceived gender of those who sent them.

leads percentage Effect of male (M) or female prospector

In fact, there was a 54% better chance of securing a lead if you happened to be male (or, at least, have a ‘male’ name).

The results aren’t so marked, but the gender of the recipient seemed to also contribute to the leads a campaign produced.

Effect of male (M) or female (F) recipient -1

Here women were found to 33% less likely to become leads than men were.

When we combined it all together and looked at male to male, male to female, female to male and female to female prospecting attempts, the scores on the doors were:

Effect of male (M) or female (F) prospector and recipient

We didn’t expect to see female to female prospecting performing worse than female to male – but it did.

The biggest shock, however, was just how much the lead rate improved from male to male prospecting. In fact, our data suggested that a male to male email, compared to a female to female, more than doubled the prospects engaged.

Is sales still a ‘boys club’?

According to LinkedIn, the times are changing significantly slower in sales than they are in the rest of the workforce.

It compares the fact that women now make up about half of the workforce – and 51.5% of management and professional positions – with the stats that the percentage of women in sales has only increased 3% in the last decade, from 36% to 39%, and that this percentage decreases the more senior the role. Women only hold 19% of leadership roles in sales. 

But things are changing – albeit slowly.

We thought it was time we took a fresh, comparative look at the effect of gender two years on.

This time we looked at nearly 30,000 recent emails (from the past couple of months) again across a randomly selected cross-section of industries.

Let’s see if the times have changed in 2020.

What effect is gender having on prospecting in 2020?

Well, the gender disparity still remains but it is rapidly closing.

Effect of male or female prospector in 2020

The difference in lead rate between having a male prospector and a female prospector now has narrowed from 53% to an almost marginal 6.93%.

Which is great news – in fact, the difference now is so minimal that it could easily be accounted for by the industries prospected from, the day a mail was sent on or any number of factors other than gender.

Let’s see whether male recipients are still a ‘softer’ touch than females when it comes to securing a lead.

Effect of male or female Recipient in 2020

Two years ago, there was a 33% drop in the lead rate if your recipient was female. Again, the differences are closing, now standing at a 12%.

Finally let’s look at all the possible permutations of the gender of prospector and recipient.

The effect of the gender of prospector and recipient in 2020

Once again, the most noticeable change is that the differences have all narrowed down. Two years ago, we found that a male to male lead rate was double a female to female one. In 2020, we find that there is just over a fifth of a better chance (21.27%).

We also now see that female to male prospecting performs significantly better than male to male, again in stark contrast to our previous results.

Things are looking up?

Our jaws hit the floor when we saw the results of our last data analysis. But we’re much more reassured now.

The gap seems to be closing on the effects of gender on prospecting – probably as the demographics of the sales teams and senior decision-makers changes.

And it’s not before time!

Now we just have to deal with the hundred other barriers that can prevent your prospecting success. And, don’t worry, we’re hot on the case.

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