I’m hearing this a lot from salespeople: “I’m really tired. Feeling a little burned out.”
This is not coming from salespeople or sales managers that are whiners or professional complainers. They come from normally optimistic, high-energy individuals with a high bounce-back factor.
The reality is 2020 was hard. It didn’t matter if your industry either benefited from the pandemic or got clobbered by it. Change came roaring in with little time to prepare.
So as a sales manager, what can you do to decrease stress and improve sales?
#1: Practice gratitude. This is a no-cost solution with HIGH return on investment. Give each person on your sales tam a gratitude journal. Ask them to add one item for which they are grateful for 30 days. Review this journal before you start one-on-one coaching sessions or team meetings.
- When you are grateful, it’s easier to be hopeful about the present and future.
- When you are grateful, it’s difficult to fall into what Zig Ziglar called, “Stinkin Thinkin.”
- When you are grateful, your body responds with a nice shot of the feel-good hormone dopamine rather than the feel-bad hormone of cortisol, which increases anxiety, blood pressure and sleep.
#2: Teach your sales team to be ruthless about eliminating distractions and non-essential tasks. Sales professionals are stressed out because they are tired out. They are tired out because they are falling into the busy-but-not-productive trap.
Human beings are becoming professional flitters.
They flit from task to task and thought to thought.
They start a task that requires focus and thinking. It might be designing a customized pursuit strategy for a target prospect. Or it could be pre-call planning a first-discovery meeting with a prospect.
However, this deep thinking is interrupted because the salesperson didn’t set up an environment for success.
They are distracted by incoming email alerts.
They are distracted by texts and voicemail.
They are distracted by in-house communication tools.
They are distracted and they are ineffective.
When human beings multitask, they burn up oxygenated glucose in the brain. They lower their ability to think strategically or creatively.
The pursuit strategy is OK, but there isn’t anything compelling that makes them stand out from their 100 competitors.
They conduct a discovery meeting with a new prospect and it falls flat. All that good fuel for thinking was burned up checking emails, texts and Slack. Instead of asking great redirect questions or provocative ones, they run a check-the-box discovery meeting.
#3: Control what you can control. It’s easy for all of us to feel out of control, especially during tough times. For example, many salespeople are in industries being affected by supply chain issues. They are selling and closing business, but their company can’t get the goods to deliver to their customers.
They feel out of control!
So, what can a salesperson control in this situation?
- Staying in touch with their clients, even if it’s only to deliver bad news. Clients may be upset but in the long run, they appreciate your honesty.
- Working with clients on alternative sources or solutions. Holding brainstorming sessions where anything goes and nobody gets punished for a bad answer. What would happen if your client tried strategy A, B or C? Think outside the box (as long as you don’t actually utter that told old cliché).
- Working with clients on booking orders further out to ensure they are in line for fulfillment. It’s going to take a while, but America’s supply chain will return to full strength.
None of the above are easy conversations, but they’re important – and it’s time to start scheduling them. Forget the bad parts of 2020 and focus on the future.