“I’m not seeing enough opportunities in your forecast for this quarter. What are you going to do about it?” If reading this gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. Sales is a stressful career. According to one survey, sellers rated their average stress level at a 7 out of 10. Even if you love what you do, there are going to be times when the pressure becomes overwhelming.
When you look at how sales reps are measured and compensated, it’s no wonder. Your performance is tracked through heavily analyzed data. Your income fluctuates month to month. And everyone can see how they stack up against their colleagues.
Even during a stressful quarter though, there are ways to stay grounded. Here are ten tips to make sure stress doesn’t take over your day – so you can focus on closing deals.
Many sellers thrive in a competitive environment. They’re excited to get out of their comfort zone, persuade leads to become customers and sit at the top of the leaderboard. When business is good, sellers are celebrated for their wins and hard work.
But when business is struggling, the pressure to turn things around can fall heavily on the shoulders of sales reps. Past a certain point, stress is no longer a healthy motivator. Sellers start focusing on the wrong activities, get stuck on deals, and may trip themselves up as they scramble to find more business. Learning how to handle stress is an important skill to avoid sales burnout.
During hard economic times, sellers carry a lot of pressure. They’re the first line of contact for prospects and customers. Hard work doesn’t always guarantee success, especially when reps are scrambling to find deals. It’s hard to stay positive in the face of customer rejections, missed quotas, a lack of coaching, and disorganized sales support and processes.
If you’re starting to feel exhausted and have a pessimistic view of your sales abilities, you’re probably experiencing sales burnout.
Common signs of burnout include:
How can you stay grounded in the face of burnout? First, remember that it’s possible to tackle a stressful sales quarter without losing your positive attitude, health, and drive to succeed. So stop what you’re doing for a moment, take a breath, and practice these ten ways to take care of yourself during stressful times.
In sales it can feel like reaching your number is the only way to show your value to your company. But you’re not your number and a bad quarter is not a reflection of your abilities. When you look at your teammates and they seem calm and confident, remember that everyone struggles. They too battle self-doubt, even if they don’t talk about it at work.
That’s because sellers don’t always know how to handle feeling ashamed when they lose a deal. It’s at odds with what makes you a good seller in the first place. You want to exceed expectations. This is what makes you great at your job. Remind yourself that self-doubt is normal, but it doesn’t have to cloud your view of the world.
Sales isn’t a solo race, it’s a team sport. If you feel like you’re on your own and can’t get your bearing, ask for help from your teammates and your manager. They can assist in preparing a presentation, reviewing a pitch deck, or solving a particularly difficult problem.
No one will know you need support if you don’t ask for it. Raise your hand and ask your colleagues for their advice on writing better emails, handling customer objections, or getting creative in how you address customer concerns.
When there are too many competing priorities, sellers can fall victim to analysis paralysis. Where should you start when you have so much to get done? Instead of looking at your sales target as one big problem that needs to be solved, break it down into the tasks you need to complete along the way.
If you have a handful of active sales cycles, tackle one at a time. The first step for an opportunity may be sending an email to the customer. The next step could be securing a discount approval from your sales director. Once you have completed those tasks, move on to the next deal. Each activity will ultimately get you closer to your number, step by step.
Sellers can be hyper-focused on their work and before you know it, hours can go by staring at your computer screen. Make sure to take breaks and get away from your desk. If you’re in the office, leave the building for a ten to fifteen-minute walk around the block. If you’re working remotely, schedule your workout session at lunchtime.
Not only will this help you mentally refresh, it will also keep your body healthy. Back, neck, and shoulder pain make it harder to focus when you are at your desk.
How many cups of coffee do you drink throughout the day? How often do you skip lunch? Do you eat a lot of sugary snacks to keep alert?
Your brain is part of your body and if you aren’t taking care of your health, your mind won’t be as sharp as it could be. By consciously choosing to eat healthier food and limit your intake of caffeine, you can avoid fatigue and mood swings throughout the day.
If you find yourself drinking heavily, binging on fast food, or using drugs to cope with your stress, then it’s time to take a break. If you haven’t taken any paid time off lately, make that a priority. Give yourself time to process some of your anxiety around selling so that you can cope in healthier ways.
You don’t have to do this alone either. Talk to your manager about your stress and health concerns. They’ll likely have ideas about how to reprioritize your workload. You can also reach out to your Human Resources or PeopleOps team. Many companies offer mental health resources like connecting you to a therapist, providing yoga and meditation classes, or encouraging mental health days.
The road to success is paved with small wins. Celebrate those moments! A sale that gets you 15% closer to your target is great progress. Let your team know so they can celebrate with you. Small wins don’t have to be won deals either. If you finally landed a discovery call with your top prospect that you’ve been chasing for months, that’s a win too.
Expressing gratitude for those around you is a proven way to increase your own well-being. Thank your teammate who helped you prepare for a demo. Thank your sales support rep who helped you turn around a contract fast. Thank your manager for having your back during tough negotiations. Expressing gratitude is part of healthy workplace culture.
Your company may provide mindfulness workshops, meditation sessions, or discounts for mental health apps. If not, here are a few mindfulness tips from the Mayo Clinic:
10. Schedule time to plan ahead
Sellers can easily get caught up tending to urgent fires and neglect filling their pipeline with leads and opportunities for the next quarter. This creates a cycle of urgency.
Beat this by scheduling time in your calendar to go through your book of business, check up on leads, and find potential deals for the future. Start having those conversations today. You’ll be less rushed and more engaged with your customers. If you’re too overwhelmed, enlist your manager to help on a weekly or bi-weekly cadence.
Sellers love a challenge. The energy and the urgency of sales is an important driver that can motivate you to exceed your targets and make more money. But if stress is starting to negatively impact your ability to do your job, stop for a moment and review these ten tips so you can get back on track and start winning again.