Feeling beat down by sales stress? You aren’t alone. Recent research found that 63% of salespeople struggle with their mental health. And SalesFuel reports that more than one-third of sellers say the ability to manage stress is a top characteristic needed for their role. The pressure to succeed can be immense, and while there’s more awareness around mental health, it remains a challenge for sellers. Too much of either can hinder performance, lead to poor decision-making and even cause burnout.
It is possible to manage stress, but it takes effort and practice. LinkedIn’s Jack McKissen examines this topic and how reps can adjust their way of thinking to better control their responses. He also shares insights from Becki Saltzman, author and founder of the Applied Curiosity Lab, to guide professionals to get a better handle on stressors.
3 ways to cut down on sales stress
First, sellers must understand whether they’re primarily feeling stress or pressure. While the two often go hand-in-hand, stress and pressure are two very different things. The first step in managing them is to understand them. Knowing the difference between the two will aid in understanding how to handle each.
- Stress comes from your internal reaction to a situation.
- Pressure is an externally applied force that makes you feel you have to take immediate action.
“Separating stress and pressure is the first step toward putting yourself in a position that will help ensure you actually meet your sales goals,” McKissen explains. “Before you let it eat you alive, identify which of these two emotions you’re actually feeling.”
Understanding which feeling you’re primarily dealing with is key to deciding what approach to take.
Remember, stress is something that is generated internally, while pressure comes from external sources. With stress, you must look inward to see which behaviors or thoughts may be contributing and then rework them.
Break down goals into smaller actions
One of the biggest contributors to sales stress is meeting quota. When feeling stress, take a look at your workload and how you approach tasks. As the professionals at weflow explain, “Looking at any large, long-term goal can feel daunting. But when you break that goal down into smaller chunks, it can feel more achievable and less overwhelming.”
Take a look at your current goals and deadlines, and then brainstorm how you can break down the necessary to-do’s into small daily, weekly and monthly tasks. Set an objective for each, which will keep you on track to meet quota, but still breaking it down into a less intimidating workload. You will be keeping yourself on track while also experiencing the confidence from the small “wins” you’re checking off along the way.
Weflow also recommends automating any tasks that can lighten your mental load. Consider how you use can use digital tools to streamline your efforts.
Take intentional breaks to alleviate sales stress
When feeling stressed, it’s easy to fall into the habit of not taking a moment to step back for a breather. But taking intentional small breaks throughout the day can help reset your focus, clear your mind and also give your body a rest. These mini breaks will boost, rather than break, your productivity because you’re allowing yourself time to detach momentarily and then regroup.
Consider these suggestions from weflow:
- After a long meeting or stressful client call, set a 20-minute timer and read a (non-work related) book.
- Take lunch with a colleague and make work-related conversation off-limits.
- Block off 15 minutes of your afternoon on your calendar and go for a brief walk.
- Meditate for 5 minutes before jumping on a pitch call.
- Use your commute time to listen to a podcast, audiobook or your favorite music.
SalesFuel also recommends setting aside moments to simply focus on breathing. Simply counting your breaths can provide relief from stress. For guidance, take a listen to this Manage Smarter podcast episode featuring Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD.
For most reps, sales stress is a part of the job, but it can quickly become overwhelming and wreak havoc professionally and personally. But, as McKissen points out, "there are things you can do to reduce the psychological weight these emotions can carry." Small adjustments can help you prevent and manage stressors so that you are productive and keep burnout at bay.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio