What Have You Done to Improve Your Team’s Mental Health?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Today’s work force is highly educated, which leads your team members to want positions that offer meaningful work. The definition of meaningful work can vary but when your employees don’t have it, their mental health could be at stake. Issues of mental health can be worse when people don’t feel engaged at work. In the sales profession, a true new business hunter may never be happy as an account manager, for example. How widespread is the problem in the sales profession? In the 2021 State of Mental Health in Sales Report, produced by UNCrushed and the Sales Health Alliance, nearly 800 sales professionals talked about their levels of stress and how it impacts mental health. 

Significant Mental Health Challenges Among Sales Professionals

The most startling statistic in this report may be that nearly 60% of sales professionals say they have mental health challenges. Not surprisingly, the sales pros with the best mental health also believe they perform well on the job. Some of the stress sales professionals feel comes with the nature of the position. Prospects and buyers frequently reject proposals. They tend to ghost their sales rep rather than being brave enough to tell them no.

Other professional stress results from organizational policies or negative manager interactions. Corporate leaders may believe they are inspiring and motivating teams when they set unrealistically high quotas for the new year or the upcoming quarter. In truth, those unrealistic numbers drive team members to find new jobs. Around 27% of sales professionals we spoke with for our Voice of the Sales Rep survey say they have left a position because they had no realistic way to make money above their base salary.

When a sales rep or account manager doesn’t feel they fit well with their supervisor, their stress level goes up. In the State of Mental Health report, 42% of sales reps who feel supported by their supervisor also say they are engaged and motivated. When they don’t feel any manager love, as our survey shows, 27% start looking for a new job.

Optimize the Work Environment for Mental Health

To decrease one major stress factor, organizational leaders should adjust unrealistic quotas. In highly competitive industries, when a company is struggling to gain market share without a clear product or service advantage, it does little good to pressure sales professionals to achieve what’s not attainable. This kind of problem requires more complex strategizing such as adjusting the product or targeting a different audience. Only then should leaders set quotas.

Sales reps and account managers also want to see a clear career path. Most of your team members will not be satisfied with doing the same job with the same types of customers year after year. You can reduce their stress levels by creating positions that satisfy their motivations. After taking a psychometric assessment, you may learn that one of your team members has a high curiosity level. This individual will dig deep to find out what a customer needs and will strive to satisfy them. Develop a career path that prepares your highly curious reps to serve complex accounts, and they’ll feel they are making difference and engaging in meaningful work.

Strengthen Team Connections

Sales reps also told researchers they had better job outcomes when they “felt strongly connected to their peers and teammates.” As companies continue with hybrid work arrangements, some of your more gregarious salespeople may feel isolated. Have you continued to hold the regular video meetings you established at the onset of the pandemic? Yes, 25% of sales reps tell us they have “Zoom fatigue.” But they still want to bond. They enjoy celebrating each other’s successes and commiserating over the unexpected losses.

Sales professionals may always have a higher-​than-​average rate of stress and struggle with mental health issues. The nature of their work contributes to these problems. But a caring and engaged manager can make a big difference in helping these employees stay connected and engaged.

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