Changing business landscape. New technologies. Complex buying processes. Ever-rising goals. The list goes on and on.
It’s all too easy to let your job as a sales professional define who you are. One bad day or missed quota can influence your attitude and outlook towards all other aspects of your life -- but it doesn’t have to.
Yes, that’s a lot easier said than done, but just like anything in sales, it takes consistent effort and practice.
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.
We’ve outlined three common stress triggers salespeople experience on a daily basis and identified what you can do to manage these triggers more effectively in order to minimize your overall stress and anxiety towards your job.
So, what’s stressing salespeople out?
Reason #1: Prospecting
One of the main stress triggers of being in sales comes from a lack of leads and the pressure to continually find new prospects to fill your pipeline.
In fact, more than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%) (HubSpot).
How can you manage it?
Leverage Your Digital Media Skills
Most salespeople still depend on cold calling or emailing despite its ineffectiveness in today’s information-rich economy where decision makers can build a virtual wall around themselves with technology.
Relying on only this approach is a set up for let down and failure.
When you’re unable to reach the person you want, or you’re able to connect but quickly get rejected, it’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed.
Instead of fighting an uphill battle, make it easier for yourself by leveraging the power of social selling.
Social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers, are 51% more likely to achieve quotas, and outsell their non-social counterparts 78% of the time. (LinkedIn)
Bottom line:Sales reps sell more by using social media.
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 own voice and perspective to what you’re sharing.
Why do you think it’s important to your audience? What should they take away from the content?
Social selling is about building a connection with your audience before they buy your product or service.
It’s about providing resources that let prospects and customers know they can come to you not only for information about your product but also for information on industry trends and general education.
Sales and Marketing Automation
Mitigating stress requires one of two things: less pressure or more resources. Those resources might be mentors, education, or tools to help alleviate busy work.
Automation software and tools in particular can save you huge amounts of time (thereby relieving some stress) and also elevate the nature of your work so that you're more engaged.
Sales automation software takes the manual, time-consuming tasks you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and automates them.
Automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity, according to a study from Nucleus Research and this isn’t at the cost of increased resources, but in fact the opposite – the same report also found that companies using automation enjoyed an average 12.2% reduction in marketing overheads.
Bottom Line:Sales and marketing automation increases your efficiency, improves accuracy, and accelerates your sales process.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator automates sales prospecting by sifting through leads on LinkedIn and identifying relevant prospects.
It provides the Lead Builder, an advanced search box that lets you filter LinkedIn users by company, job title, industry, seniority, years of experience, location and more.
You can also choose to get email alerts every day, week, or month. You’ll then receive a prequalified list of prospects on a recurring basis without lifting a finger.
This allows you hone in on prospects very quickly and prioritize where to invest research and calls.
Reason #2: Time
Selling is a busy job.
You’re constantly juggling activities like finding leads, meetings, creating proposals, and sending follow up emails.
It just never seems like there’s enough time to get everything done yet all you do is work, work, work.
Truth be told, one in two salespeople said friends and family told them they work too much and if that’s not bad enough, one in three salespeople say their job negatively impacts their personal life and admit to having no work-life balance. (HubSpot)
Sounds like a personal and professional break down waiting to happen, but since you can’t add more hours to the day, what can you do to work smarter, not harder?
Focus On Attention Management, NOT Time Management
In this recent NY Times article, author Adam Grant shares a compelling point-of-view about our relentless search for how to increase productivity by managing time more effectively.
He goes on to highlight how our obsession with this is actually part of the problem.
He argues that instead of focusing on time, we must shift our mindset to attention management.
“A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.
Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments.”
We aren’t telling you to stop paying attention to how long you spend on things, but we are saying you should start thinking differently about what you work on and why.
You can adopt this approach by considering these questions:
Why are you working on this task?
You might say because I have to, but let’s put that aside for now.
Identify at least one positive reason you’re completing a task or working on a project.
If you really pay attention to why you’re excited or that one positive thing about the project and who will benefit from it, you’ll be naturally pulled into it by intrinsic motivation.
For instance, writing a sales proposal may not excite you but if you focus on the positive aspects of this activity, you’ll find it less stressful.
Perhaps the positive here is that you can put your creative thinking to work.
Where are you working on this task?
Attention management also involves noticing where you get things done.
Consider these scenarios:
Working from a loud, crowded coffee shop versus a quiet, open office space or working on a bright sun shining day versus a dark dreary day.
Which of these situations would you choose to get your work done?
Believe it or not, where your work influences the quality and quantity of your work.
In fact, a series of studies led by Julia Lee show that bad weather is good for productivity because we’re less likely to be distracted by the thought of going outside.
Reconsidering your workspace may unlock a path to more focused attention.
When are you working on this task?
Based on strengths and weaknesses as well as likes and dislikes, we have a tendency to assign levels of interest to the activities we need to accomplish.
While some of those things you probably like doing and are good at, others you may dislike and aren’t very good at.
Pay very close attention to your interest and enthusiasm towards various tasks and arrange your schedule accordingly.
When you start with a task you find interesting, it makes completing a boring task immediately afterward that much harder.
So, if you’re trying to power through a boring task, do it after a moderately interesting one, and save your most exciting task as a reward for afterward.
It’s not about time; it’s about timing.
As you consider how to arrange your schedule to maximize sales results, stop thinking about how to manage your time to get more done and instead draw from the positive energy you will gain when you dedicate your full attention to the job at hand.
Bottom line: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.
Reason #3: Results
Sales is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of job.
Your customers have an ongoing desire for innovation, new product colors and sizes, better pricing, faster service, etc. That means you have to keep producing, constantly, in order to not only succeed in your job but to keep it too.
To add insult to injury, 77% of executive buyers claim salespeople don’t understand their issues and where they can help, and 78% claim salespeople do not have relevant examples or case studies to share with them. (Forrester Research)
One of the most important parts of your life, whether professional or personal, is to take the time to learn. To sharpen your skills and increase your knowledge.
If you do not take time out of each day to work on self-improvement, your effectiveness will slowly but surely fall of and your ability to adapt to changes will fade away.
Think about it, if you drove your car every day but never took the time to make sure the tires are properly inflated, that the oil was frequently changed, and that the scheduled maintenance was completed, how long would your car keep running?
Eventually, your car would experience a serious issue.
Your body and your mind are the same. Neglect your body, and your energy levels will suffer.
Never take "mental health breaks" or neglect to feed your mind with new ideas, thoughts, and challenges, and you'll either never keep up with the inevitable changes in your industry of burn out under the stress of the daily grind.
There are a lot of different methods for improving your performance through ongoing development and training, but here are a few simple ways to get started, examples included:
Sales is a high-pressure job with a lot of rejection. It can lead to frustration and lack of motivation.
Education and sales training, however, gives you the opportunity 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.
Bottom line: Education and training also helps inspire new ideas and spark creativity. It helps introduce new ways of thinking about old problems, or how to apply new ideas to a unique sales opportunity or as a way to adapt your current sales process.
Sell More, Stress Less
Pressure to hit targets and deliver results all while keeping a smile on your face and your life in balance causes emotional stress even for the most cool, calm, and collected among us.
Always remember, it usually isn’t until times of difficulty or challenge that people find their inner selves and really begin to excel and succeed in life.
If you’re finding sales to be 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.
Stress is a major part of salespeople's lives, but it's not something the industry often talks about.
Identifying different types of stress and breaking them down into actionable items is how salespeople can stay motivated, focused, and most importantly, in a healthy state of mind.
Don’t stop here, you’re on a roll. Keep going! Get our guide for more tips and tricks of the sales trade.