By Eugene Brink
Sales is one of the most stressful jobs around, especially now with the economy devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Consumer confidence is woeful, unemployment is at an all-time high, technology is changing the face of the sales industry and competition is tight. Stress is the end-result.
“Sales is one of the most stressful professions out there,” says Carrie Morgan, owner of Contemsa, a sales enablement website selling B2B sales templates and tools. “You’re on the front line every day dealing with customer issues, pitching products, negotiating, presenting and submitting proposals – all while balancing the worries, objections, concerns and needs of your customers, colleagues, sales managers, and other stakeholders. It’s a very unique job with unique stressors.”
Salespeople therefore need some techniques, some unique and some not so unique, to manage their stress levels. Here is a brief list:
- Accept and other As
Allan Lorraine, sales expert and author, says it is easy for anyone to get worked up over a frustrating situation, but you must know when to accept and let go. “Salespeople know how stress-inducing it can be to work so hard on a sales pitch, only for the potential client to go with a competitor. Sometimes the outcome of these kinds of situations were never in your control, to begin with. Learning to let go of what you cannot control is a great way to reduce your stress, especially for a salesperson.”
Dan Sincavage, chief strategy officer of Tenfold, says in addition to accepting, salespeople also need to alter, avoid and adapt. Sometimes the most promising strategy is changing the situation, such as simply leaving earlier to prepare for a pitch meeting. Sometimes avoiding a potentially stressful situation is the best route – provided that there are limited or no consequences for you or the company. In other words, don’t waste your precious energy. Adapting means looking at the big picture and wondering whether a blunder will really matter in a month or year.
- Make it a team exercise
Everything is better with company – even stress. Rally your fellow troops (or your favourite one) to your side and openly discuss your stress with them. They are, after all, in the same boat as you. “If you’re feeling stress in your sales role, then it’s likely your teammates are stressed too. Don’t be shy to open up the conversation with colleagues, as it could probably really help out another colleague who has been struggling with an issue and has been too anxious to voice it themselves,” says Morgan.
- Live well
Sincavage says your physical well-being is a cardinal factor in handling workplace stress. “Basically, eating healthy food, getting enough sleep and taking the time to exercise can go a long way to making you feel refreshed and invigorated.”
He adds a few concrete tips. Walk to the cafeteria instead of having the food delivered. Limit your coffee intake. Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and limit your exposure to artificial lighting.
Nobody can feel in control if their environment is chaotic. Improve your workspace by cleaning up your desk and organising your workflow, clearing up clutter and using to-do lists (or just diarising your task list). Also, decide which parts of your job stress you most (such as cold-calling potential clients) and try to finish those in the morning when you are fresh and rested.
- Relax, do hobbies and take time off
If you don’t take time off, your body will force you to take time off. Know when your cup has overflowed and take enough time off to recharge yourself and regain focus. You will find that you return more confidently and with a creative edge to boot.
Short of this, you would need to make time to recharge by listening to music or just spending time in nature. Relaxing does not equate to laziness. It is a necessary step that should be deliberately pursued to keep things on even keel.
Lastly, in addition to regular relaxation, it is advisable to find something to do in your spare time that is not tied to your sales work. It could be building model cars, doing woodwork, etc. This will take your mind off the stress and leave you feeling recharged and engaged.
Allan Lorraine, 15 May 2019, “How To Manage Stress as a Salesperson”, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-to-manage-stress-as-a-salesperson/.
Carrie Morgan, 20 August 2020, “7 Effective Ways to Deal With Unrelenting Sales Stress”, https://learn.g2.com/sales-stress.
Dan Sincavage, 2021, “7 Effective Stress-Busting Techniques for Salespeople”, https://www.tenfold.com/sales-performance/stress-busting-techniques-for-salespeople.