By: Natalie Sabia
As I dial the phone number and await the first person to answer, a feeling of anxiety, yet excitement consumes me. I gather my thoughts and search desperately within myself for the golden ticket, the one that will determine if I survive this call or not: confidence. While waiting for that confidence to start brewing inside of me, I patiently listen for someone to answer. “Will I get the assistant again?” I ponder, “Will they give me a hard time?”
I obsess over these thoughts in my head, but at the same time wonder just what they will be thinking once they do pick up. Will the financial advisor give me an attitude and then laugh to himself and think, “Why is this girl calling me?”
Day after day, I relive this same moment as I strive to get financial advisors on the phone. In a male-dominated profession, it can be grueling for a woman to communicate with a male advisor.
A typical phone call for me can be anything from his assistant giving me an attitude when I ask to speak to him, or a complete struggle just to leave a voicemail. The most irritating response is when I ask for his voicemail and the assistant replies, “he doesn’t like to check voicemail.” As if voicemail is not one of the most well-known ways to leave a message.
If I do get him on the phone, by the time I’ve finished introducing myself and attempt to speak about a product, I’m cut off; suddenly he doesn’t have time to speak. While he’s busy telling me he doesn’t have time, I could have said everything I wanted to say.
The life of an equity saleswoman, can be rough. I strategize a new plan each day on how to be more effective on the phone and get them to answer. On the other side of the fence, salesmen are enjoying golf outings, sports events or even just a beer with their financial advisors.
Though men and women have a lot of similarities the fact is simple: salesmen achieve a higher status when on the phone with an advisor. Salesmen are more successful in getting through to the advisor and pitching a product or an idea. Some days, they even get a phone call returned!
Depending on what strategy I use when I call, I can sometimes finagle my way up the food chain; whether or not they actually listen is different. I typically make a call sounding as if I have already spoken to the advisor once before so they might believe they know me and at least take the call. Another way is to position my phone call as if I am returning their call, so they feel an obligation to pick up the phone.
When and if I do get them on the phone, the uncertainty sets in: will things stay on a positive track or will I get shut down immediately?
Why do saleswomen and salesmen live in such different worlds? If you were to look at the situation differently, it would seem that a male advisor would be more responsive to a woman. However, the reality is it’s more of a brotherly or fraternity bond, which unfortunately leaves no room for women.
While we may not get our phone calls answered all the time by male financial advisors, at least we know where we stand and we’re constantly figuring out ways we can keep breaking the glass ceiling.