Sales Skills Women Can Learn from the Monarch Butterfly

Guest VIP Digest Blog Written By: Jill Hellwig with

It was an honor for me to speak at the recent Mortgage Girlfriends Mastermind event, where I talked about being both a “Fiery Lioness” and “Fluttering Butterfly.”

I want to share with you a bit more information about the Monarch Butterfly, and how we can learn from its migration patterns to increase our performance and longevity as women in sales.

Monarch butterflies spend the winter in Mexico and the summer in the northern United States and Canada. To think that these little insects have such a wide span of authority and migration is fascinating! According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their migration journey this time of year (as temperatures begin dropping) can be a distance up to 3,000 miles.

So, how do they do it?  Monarchs can travel 50 or even 100 miles per day, but their wings don’t do all the work. They often ride on thermal air currents, utilizing their senses of smell and vision to help them assess their environment. While they are beautiful to behold, what is even more interesting is that their vibrant color is actually used to hide them from potential predators by helping them blend into flowers and trees around them. In addition, they use their eyes to locate flowers, their antennas to smell potential food, and receptors lodged in their feet to taste sweet substances that give them sustenance and help them attract the opposite sex so they can reproduce. Instead of flying in a straight line directly from Canada to Mexico, their migratory patterns can be unpredictable as they utilize the wind and pull of the earth to get where they need to go to stay safe and to allow the next generations of butterflies to take their place.

How these butterflies take a particular direction for migration is an unsolved mystery that is often attributed to instinct and programming. Can you believe when they get together they can fly at speeds ranging from 12 to 25 miles per hour? These little insects use the clear advantage of updraft of warm air (called thermals) and glide as they migrate to preserve the energy required for their long journey. Once they arrive in Mexico, the cycle continues. What is even more impressive is that when tens of thousands of these butterflies cluster together, they stay warm, and their weight can even sometimes be enough to break branches on the pine trees in which they roost. Here they prepare for the next generation migration to return north in the spring to complete the cycle.

In my sales career, I realized that I could be a fluttering butterfly by leaning in to instinct and discernment.  Instead of always using sheer force to accomplish my goals, I learned I could discern the timing for open opportunities, focus on the needs of people, and work smarter for my own career success and longevity.

Now, before you stop reading this because “you could never be a fluttering butterfly” (you identify more with the fiery lioness), let me explain that I believe this is a natural gift we have as women.

As you go about advancing your business relationships, how effective are you at tapping into your intuition?  Even though you have “wings”, how effective have you been at utilizing your other resources as well, such as letting the wind guide you in knowing when to fly and when to wait?

As you are advancing relationships each day, developing impeccable timing is one of your most valuable keys to success. You must be able to discern when it is time to move and when it is time to stay. You don’t want to be perceived as an “overbearing Betty” or a “desperate Debbie.” You want people to think of you as a “just-in-time Jenny!”

Yes, this does make life much more unpredictable. Practically speaking, it means you cannot set a day on your calendar when you just know you are going to call a person back to make progress on a project on which you may be working. It means you put the date on your calendar, and when that day arrives you sense, as Monarchs do, if it is the right time to follow up and move. It means even if an activity isn’t on your calendar, but you feel the “green light,” you make contacting that person a priority. If it is on your calendar and you get a “red light,” you might consider pushing it out a week. This type of migration requires great patience and stamina. But if you approach it with the mindset of a “fluttering butterfly,” you will have so much more enjoyment in the process.

Mortgage Girlfriends, we can shift the atmosphere by changing the culture and expectations of women in the workplace. 

Women innately have this “discernment” skill.  It is more commonly called “a woman’s intuition.”  Women have the ability to sense the unknown in the room, simply by using their intuition, by being present and by being genuinely interested in the situation at hand. Women are usually better listeners than men, which is a key skill in building discernment. Discernment results from taking in the atmosphere and listening to the words said, the words unsaid, and the leading of your inner spirit to guide your connections.

One of the themes in my career was “sell like a girl.”  When I first graduated from college and started my official career, I was in my early twenties. I was often selling to men much older than I. I remember thinking how I wished I was older so that I would have more credibility and more experience. I often found myself being called words like, “Sweetie,” “Honey,” or “Hun.” At first, it really bothered me. Not only did it make me feel young, but it also made me keenly aware that I was a female and they were male. Soon, though, I understood that those terms of endearment, no matter how demeaning they sounded to my ears, were actually a sign that I was developing a positive relationship with that person. As I called it, “selling like a girl” was actually an asset to my career. Can you relate?

For many years, people have tried to convince women they had to become the “equal” of men. In order to do that, they needed to be like men – dress like them, think like them, talk like them, etc.  Maybe you have seen this mindset play out in your own life. Like I was, many times you may be the only female in a room full of males. You may feel like I did – I often felt like I was stuck in the “good ol’ boys club,” which is a term I used when I felt like I was at a meeting at a “men’s-only country club.”  Figuratively speaking, I was in a room full of thick leather chairs where men, smoking cigars, share jokes and sports statistics in the same way women might in a spa or salon, getting pedicures and talking about the latest celebrity gossip or the latest spring lipsticks. In either situation, men don’t feel comfortable at the salon and women don’t feel comfortable at the “club.”  In our businesses, there have traditionally been fewer women than men, so we often feel ourselves having to fit in with the good ol’ boys.

For me, and maybe you can identify with this, I usually observe one of two approaches women take to “fit in” with the men:

  1. They join the good ol’ boys by taking a “brash” approach. They ham it up with the guys, tell jokes, get loud, try to “one-up” each other and practice the back-and-forth game of name dropping.
  2. They take the opposite approach by wearing short skirts, flirting, touching, throwing their head back laughing, and building up the egos of the men in the room by batting their eyes and laughing at all of their jokes.

I know – both approaches are disgusting and pathetic, but so prevalent in our culture!!

What I came to find was that men actually do not like either of these methods, and professional women are truly disgusted by them. While they may last for a particular season, they are short-lived and meaningless. I think our clients appreciate and genuinely like us because we are not afraid to be a girl (just by being ourselves) in a room full of men. Just like Monarchs, we can be carried by the wind of our skill; our desire is to be a breath of fresh air, bringing new ideas and solutions to our clients’, both men and women’s, difficult situations.

Girlfriends, this is a new season where women are to reign as never before. As we do that, we must understand that we cannot use business as usual to get what we want. When a woman of purpose walks into a room, clothed in confidence, compelled with compassion, and anointed with discernment, there is no force on earth that can stop her from moving forward. Migration will naturally occur!

Here are some practical skills we can learn from Monarch Butterflies as we “sell like a girl”:

  • Be sensitive to what your clients are saying and not saying. Use intuition and discernment to hear their real needs and to stay curious as you ask better questions – which will lead you to better results.
  • Practice relationship building and allow others to open doors for you.
  • Develop impeccable timing, which includes patience and stamina.
  • Learn valuable information by listening and asking the right questions at the right time.
  • Be true to yourself and the process by utilizing your natural skills to build relationships.
  • Don’t burn yourself out by working too much. Follow the pattern of the Monarch as you rest each night so you don’t burn out.
  • “Huddle together” with other women who can help you learn and grow.

Mortgage girlfriends, be clothed in confidence. Don’t leave home without knowing who you are and what sets you apart as you present solutions to your clients’ greatest needs.

Discernment is your “X Factor” for success!! Carried on the wings of each generation, we can help one another and soar to realms we never before thought possible. Be a “fluttering butterfly” and realize, you are truly Monarchs!