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Although sales play a prominent role and the stakes are high, as no company can thrive in the long run without sales, the job is not the leading cause of stress.
Salespeople are placed under unnecessary stress depending on the company they work for, their sales manager, and other factors. They are left with the responsibility for both good and grim outcomes.
It’s safe to say sales is one of the most stressful jobs.
When you reflect on the constant pressure sales reps face to convert prospects to customers, keep approval ratings high, and meet a quota, sales stress comes from no mystery.
Stress is a significant part of salespeople’s lives, but it’s not something the industry often talks about.
More sales professionals than ever before report that they’re experiencing high-stress levels. In this blog, we will cover how to handle sales pressure.
After all, there’s no stress quite like sales stress because there’s no career quite like a sales career.
When employees are chronically stressed, their motivation, resilience, and communication skills can be negatively impacted — and for sales professionals, all of these attributes are necessities of the role.
Stress management needs to be a top priority for sales teams that want to reach their goals and mitigate turnover.
And that’s when you need some tools to help you effectively manage that stress to be free to succeed in your sales role without being hindered by sales anxiety.
What Is Sales Stress?
During the pandemic, the world was thrown into chaos, and everyone’s work situation has changed drastically for the foreseeable future.
In a survey by online career database PayScale, the sales account manager was ranked as the second most stressful job, with 73% of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.”
Sales stress is the pressure to meet or exceed the ongoing quota. The sales output directly impacts a company’s revenue and its ability to fund more ventures and pay employees.
Unfortunately, the pressure never lets up; there’s never enough revenue, clients, or deals. So if your team is feeling unusually stressed, they likely need more resources.
These resources may come in sales enablement tools, more team members, or additional sales training.
If you’re a manager, conduct interviews with your team to determine where they could use a little more help.
Sales reps are often told that stress and sales success go hand in hand. But this is not the case. You have a say in how stress affects your sales performance.
The first step is acknowledging there’s no quick fix to fighting anxiety and stress.
You need a long-term plan for improving the way you process and move forward from difficult circumstances in general and day-to-day sales pressure in specific.
Sales Reps: Manage Your Expectations
If you’re a sales rep and expect every sale qualified lead, or SQL, to be ready to buy, you’re sadly mistaken.
As seasoned reps will tell you, the sales process looks different at every company.
So while one company might fill out a form and buy your product the next day, many are just collecting research for a purchase down the road.
Setting Realistic Goals As A Sales Manager
Sales targets are unrealistic because the public company you work for must see growth; otherwise, shareholders sell stock, collapse, and you get fired.
This means your CEO chases the sales director for results, who chases their sales managers, who then chase you.
This pressure can be immense as it’s pushed down from level to level and becomes increasingly faceless and authoritative.
Feeling like you’re only as good as your sales results can be particularly damaging to a salesperson’s self-worth, so always remember that it’s just a number – it’s not always a reflection on how well you do your job.
Yet, the sales profession is often overlooked in recognizing the stress and emotional impact that selling can have on salespeople’s lives. But it’s not all bad news.
The irony is that your pension is tied up in these public companies, and so you’re the one that needs them to grow, grow, grow.
Managers can quickly become desperate when the pressure is on them. However, this does not give them the right to put additional pressure on salespeople.
You won’t reach your quota if you’re not making enough calls.
Companies estimate that they could increase sales by almost a third (29%) if their customer data were entirely accurate.
A strong organization can generate up 70% more revenue than an average organization based solely on the quality of its data.
If you want to de-stress your sales job, you need to eliminate cold calling from your sales activities and focus on other methods that work.
However, if you plan your day around these numbers, your monthly results won’t come as a surprise to you—mitigating the stress of not knowing.
The real stress in being a sales professional comes from a lack of leads and the pressure to find more prospects and keep your pipeline full continually.
Most salespeople still depend on cold calling, despite its ineffectiveness in today’s world.
They build this virtual wall around themselves, and it ultimately leads to failure.
Even as an expert in cold calls, the return rate is in-between 1-3%.
As a sales manager, analytics can inform nearly every decision you make, from assigning quotas, territory size, number of reps on your team, and the amount of revenue you can expect your team to bring in.
Get comfortable with your analytics, and you’ll find your job suddenly becomes easier.
Follow-Up With Leads
Eighty percent of sales require five follow-ups, yet 44% of sale reps give up after only one follow-up. Do yourself a favor and continue to follow up with leads and prospects.
You’ll make more sales and reduce the stress of continuously finding new prospects.
Customers are more likely to buy from a company they trust. Provide value and build your credibility by sharing relevant content on social media.
This could be content you create or content created by someone else. The key here is to add your voice and perspective to what you’re sharing.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep can do wonders to your mood and stress levels. Eight hours of sleep is a rule of thumb and allows your brain and body to recharge.
Setting aside work to take a break sounds counterproductive or poor use of time. Taking breaks throughout the day gives you back time because it helps you remain calmer and focused.
For optimal productivity, researchers at MIT suggest taking a 15-minute break every 75 -90 minutes. During those breaks, try to refrain from consuming content or reading emails.
The right pressure can build competition and motivation, while the wrong kind can be paralyzing.
As Salesforce’s investment in meditation rooms suggests, becoming entirely consumed with worries.
Instead, organizations and salespeople should focus on facilitating motivation and dispelling unnecessary obstacles to sales success.
Hobbies Outside Work
Problematic Areas of Your Sales Process
It’s hard for any rep to thrive under a broken sales process.
And this constant stress can impact your ability to do your job well, as research found that 38% of salespeople reported that stress had sometimes hindered their sales performance.
If being constantly available affects your ability to do your job effectively, then it’s not doing your customers any favors.
If several members of your team are feeling the weight of similar stressors, or if you find customers aren’t converting after reaching a specific point in your sales process, it could be a good time to look at what’s going on.
Dealing With People
The biggest stressor for salespeople, though, is that most of the people you deal with are not the brightest.
They’re great folks to get drinks with on a Thursday evening or go mountain biking with on the weekend, but during that 9-5 period Monday-Friday, they turn into complete pain in the arses.
Using Stress To Your Advantage
Stress can be beneficial for salespeople because commissions, sales incentives trips, and internal competition are effective: it drives activity.
At its core, stress management means emotional management.
The more capable you are of recognizing, realizing, and managing your emotions, the more control you have over your time, energy, and focus.
Mitigating stress requires one of two things: less pressure or more resources. Those resources might be mentors, educational tools, or software to help alleviate busy work.
Automation tools, in particular, can save reps vast amounts of time (thereby relieving some stress) and elevate the nature of their work so that they’re more engaged.
Aberdeen found that salespeople spend 9% less time looking up information year-over-year when using a sales intelligence solution.
How To Counter Sales Stress For Sales Success
Sales is a high-pressure job with a lot of rejection. It can lead to frustration and lack of motivation.
The good news is that those working in sales have lots of opportunities for approaching stress.
Not many jobs have as well defined measurement of success and failure, which is why we also can make the money we make.
However, education and sales training allow you to keep yourself and your sales team motivated through team-building activities and morale-boosting workshops.
It encourages information sharing and meaningful discussions among the team.
Identifying different types of stress and breaking them down into actionable items is the only way to ensure salespeople stay motivated, focused, and most importantly, sane.
Practicing a more mindful, attention-driven approach to your daily activities by eliminating distractions and focusing on why, where, and when you do things will help reduce stress and anxiety.
Find ways to balance the way you motivate your reps at all levels.
For your higher-performing reps, set expectations but give them more flexibility to set even higher goals for themselves to reach their full potential.
Lower performing reps may have a more challenging time channeling their stress into positive energy if expectations and the path to meet those expectations aren’t clear.
For lower-performing reps, put some formalized structure in place, incentivizing them to meet daily goals and celebrate small wins.
This will keep them engaged and less focused on past losses and end-of-quarter goals, but rather on what they can control at the moment to help them get back on track.
However, we can’t work at our best when we’re burnt out – so it’s important to take regular breaks to recharge; even a quick walk outside of the office or eating lunch away from your desk can make all the difference.
Many companies are now also offering well-being services to their staff in the office, such as meditation and lunchtime yoga, so investigate what services are available to you and try to incorporate these into your daily routine.
The Bottom Line
Working in sales can be incredibly stressful.
Stressed employees aren’t good for business. Make an effort to ease this sales pressure using some of the methods mentioned in this post.
If you feel like work impacts your mental health, it’s essential to check-in and ask yourself whether you can carry on, or whether it would be healthier and more sensible to take a day off to get refreshed and re-energized.
Developing a healthy work-life balance and focusing on self-care can improve productivity and mental health.
It’s important to remember it’s impossible to eliminate stress in sales completely.
It usually isn’t until times of difficulty or challenge that people find their inner selves and begin to excel and succeed in life.
If you’re finding sales challenging right now, realize that this may be your cue to change what you’ve been doing and learn new and better ways of selling.
Check out Kennected today to learn other ways in which you can improve your sales efforts and increase productivity.