Can you believe that in the USA, almost 67% of sales reps are close to burnout during their sales prospecting? It is impossible to brush sales stress under the rug anymore. Salesmen are constantly under a lot of pressure to keep rankings high, convert quickly, meet targets, and create a good first impression with clients.
To deal with this situation, sales managers must first realize that effective mental clarity and undeterred focus are crucial to sales. Unless you train your employees to handle clients and their rejections constructively, they will never grow competent. They will keep losing their motivation and expect you to be available at all times for guidance.
To turn sales stress into success, you majorly need to mitigate risks, dispel obstacles, and facilitate motivation. Here is how you as a manager can handle sales stress and push your team to compete efficiently through sales team activities.
Kathir’s experience in sales
Kathir is a high-profile manager and one of the quirkiest sales leadersfrom one of the best IT companies in Chennai. During a recent conversation about stress and burnout, he opened up about an experience in his life. This story seems apt to drive our point forward in this instance.
The dedicated manager told me how he was born with a drive to keep working. “Even when I was a kid, I had OCD! All my building blocks had to be stacked neatly and all my jigsaw puzzles had to be solved. If not, the stress of not getting the work done wouldn’t let me sleep!” he said.
This stress and the desire to get work done stuck with Kathir throughout his life. Even as a manager, he positively handled stress and encouraged his employees to do the same. He used this strategy to motivate his team and keep them on their toes.
When I asked Kathir how managers can combat sales stress during sales prospecting, he said, “Why should you do that when you can use it to your advantage?”
Kathir used his anxiety as a means of getting work done all his life. It motivated him to push himself and complete tasks ahead of time. “Stress is beneficial for salespeople and can be as good an incentive as a salary hike. It drives activity and makes the team work more when the pressure rises,” Kathir told me with a smile.
He often sets ambitious goals that leave the team stunned and speechless. Maybe a short deadline for an unbelievably big project. Or a massive budget for a project that is assigned to a junior. Or even in one instance, an overly competitive environment that triggered the entire team while curating a strategic account plan.
These might seem like harsh strategies for an already stressed team. But by training the team to constructively use the pressure, you can skyrocket your productivity! Kathir shared some scenarios where this proved useful.
1. It made internal competition effective
Several salespeople appreciated the external push to get work done. Kathir’s timely aid helped his employees compete internally through sales team activities in a healthy manner. They began to work extra hard to meet expectations and challenged themselves to reach goals.
One situation occurred when his employees had to deliver a project overnight for a very high-paying client. Kathir offered to erect a massive gold photo frame with the team’s best-performing employee’s photo in the middle of the office. He informed the team that the photo would stay on the wall and all the employees could see it every time they entered the office.
He even went the extra mile to order the frame in front of his team and cleared a wall to place the photo frame. He began to scroll through social media and found some photos of his team that they prized the most. This self-inflicted pressure pushed the team to close the deal for the client and meet their targets overnight! And imagine how happy the whole team was when a group photo of all the members was erected the next day.
Kathir also warned me about this strategy going south easily — all it takes is one person with a negative mindset who quits at the last moment. It would disrupt the entire team and ruin their motivation to earn the reward. “We always ensured that the employees took the tasks in a positive sense and the competition was healthy. It makes no sense if your employees create a toxic space just trying to one-up each other!” he said.
2. It helped the team achieve their goals
The solution helped the teams achieve their personal and professional goals. This was due to their enhanced time management and communication skills owing to the stressful situations they were in.
The team was given extra pressure but equally more resources. They even had salary hikes at the end of the crucial period. The team received good mentorship and tools to get the work done. Kathir equipped his team with the resources and software to alleviate the work and help people work smartly.
The entire team came together to get the work done and automated various tasks during their strategic account plan. It kept them engaged and they could complete their tasks by pushing each other. It also made them feel like everyone was going through the same pressure and nobody was handling things alone.
If things went south, the whole team would face it. If things worked out well, the whole team would celebrate. This made the sales team motivated and focused despite going through insane amounts of stress. Kathir kept them sane by allocating hours for free gym memberships, unwinding with family, and meditating.
3. The team achieved their full potential
Employees were able to identify when they were the most productive and stopped working when they crossed that threshold. They learned life skills that helped them be agile and resilient to deal with unexpected situations.
Maybe they worked better while focusing on a single task at a time. Or they worked more productively following the ‘Pomodoro technique’ (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes break). Kathir encouraged his team to take frequent breaks and chill out with each other. And they strictly must not check their emails or consume work-related content during that time.
The team learned to arrange their schedule to maximize their results and utilize their stress positively. Even if they worked just four hours a day, they worked dedicatedly and were hyper-focused on the job.
Kathir would often appreciate his employees’ efforts with cute messages and notes. He would leave a handwritten sticky note on their desktops with a smiley face and a small quote. It would surprise his employees when they got back from lunch or a short break and motivated them to work more.
Sales stress is a universal problem for various companies. But the power to leverage it and harness positive stress makes the best sales team! These tips and tricks can help your sales reps change their mindsets and work better.
Coach your sales reps to empathize with each other and work as a team. They will feel much better when they realize they are not alone, and everyone is under the same level of pressure. It will help you keep your team agile and resilient to change when unexpected circumstances occur.
Remember — it is all about timing, not time. Don’t make your team work more, make them work intentionally and smartly. Teach them to play to their strengths and use their internal pressure to push themselves. It is a way to move ahead faster, not break down and stop moving.
Wish to enhance your sales team as Kathir did, speak to us. Let’s embark on becoming better sales leaders with critical sales coaching.