The United Nations International Labor Organization has called occupational stress a “global epidemic” that not only affects our health, but also the global economy. Expert Valentina Forastieri explains, “we found that work related stress costs global society untold billions in direct and indirect costs annually.”
So, if it wasn’t enough that stress puts you at greater risk for a number of health problems, it looks like putting in too many hours at work can hurt your bottom line rather than helping it. All of these factors combine to put each of us in danger of stress levels spiraling out of control.
Sales, in particular, can be especially stressful, with quotas to meet, countless data sets to track, and multiple accounts to pay attention to at one time. So, here are 10 ways experts recommend to keep sales stress at healthy levels:
Choosing a creative outlet can be a life-saver. My senior year of college, I was balancing two majors and a 50-page thesis, so I decided to take ceramics. It was so relaxing, I ended up taking another full semester of it! Not to mention I got some handmade bowls out of it, too.
A creative outlet doesn’t have to be artistic, either. Matt Curl, VP of Business Operations at FiveStar, shares that cooking for his family helps him de-stress after work. Some prefer more active outlets like fishing, running, or walking the dog. Whatever outlet you prefer, be sure to make time for it each day to help regulate your stress level.
The Company You Keep
Farleigh-Dickinson University conducted a detailed study on stress in the workplace. One university psychologist, Robert Ostermann, explains why even if we have friends at work, it’s important to maintain other relationships outside of the office that are completely separate. He says “work is not a social situation, so we begin to get some things that are antagonistic to relationships,” like competition for quotas and promotions.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friends with anyone at work, but it does emphasize the value of some relaxed, non-sales related social situations. Scott Leese of Qualia advises to “spend time with people who are not stressed out,” because while it is important to surround yourself with motivated people to keep you on track, any people who “increase nervousness, anxiety, or stress level have no place in [your] life”
Cian McLoughlin, the best-selling author of Rebirth of a Salesman, ensures that “if you’ve done a good enough job through the sales cycle, you’ve earned the right to a proper debrief with your customer.” Most customers are happy to share their feedback, which can help you see what you have done well and possible areas for improvement.
Establish Routines and Habits
Routines and habits will help you stay motivated and productive, while also reducing stress when work gets particularly busy. Having an established process allows you to stay more organize and maintain a sense of order.
Daily routines outside of work are also important. Matt Curl refers to this as “creating your own religion,” which basically means “grounding yourself and finding time for personal reflection.” Curl’s “religion” centers around making time to see the sunset every day.
Remember: You Are Valuable
It’s easy to become discouraged by the blunders that are inevitable for throughout the sales process because all salespeople are still imperfect humans. And sometimes, it’s tempting to give in to workaholism because you feel as though you have no other choice.
Cian McLoughlin reminds us to “invest in the brand called you,” and not to write yourself off as dispensable during difficult seasons. Don’t let your work performance determine your value as a person.
Don’t Let Quota Rule
Quotas are one of the aspects of sales that can cause reps to put too much pressure on themselves. McLoughlin suggests that you “get a seat at the table” when sales targets are being determined. Furthermore, he says to remember that “quota doesn’t exist in isolation,” and that there are factors affecting your quota that are simply out of your control.
Recognize What You Can’t Control
Because there are so many factors affecting sales that are out of your control, it’s important to recognize what those are so that you can catch yourself before stressing over them. Some clients may remain unresponsive regardless of what tactics you use. Some sales are seasonal and might result in fewer prospects for a certain amount of time. If a client never answers phone calls or e-mails, that’s not necessarily your fault. Take care of what you can, but rest knowing that there will be some factors that are just out of your hands.
Try New Strategies
If you’re in a sales slump, it may be helpful to try some new strategies, like disruptive sales or video prospecting. Taking on a new strategy gives you a project to apply to the rest of your work so that you’re channeling all that stress-energy into something positive.
Set Realistic Goals
If you set goals that are much too lofty, you’ll find yourself disappointed and often stressed. While it’s important to have goals, it’s also important to set goals that are realistic, so that they become motivators rather than sources of stress.
Use Your Resources
Many companies offer resources to help their employees de-stress. Do your research and take advantages of the opportunities available to you. In 2016, Salesforce included meditation rooms in every office. Corporations often offer counseling services, and some even offer gym memberships. Don’t be afraid to investigate the resources that your company makes available to you.
Yes, sales can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean you have to let stress take over your life. Utilize the practices that will help you most, and get to relaxing!