Everyday salespeople are facing unrelenting expectations to perform and it’s taking a dramatic toll on both their mental health and sales performance.
This post is going to look at why improving mental health among salespeople is important and how a sales leader can bolster the mental health of their sales team to drive consistency and increased performance.
Salespeople Need More Mental Health Support
First let’s take a step back and review why mental health is being overlooked and what’s currently happening in most sales organizations. This will help illustrate why salespeople need more mental health support from their sales leader.
Remember back in university when you had to write an exam that could have been worth up to 100% of your entire grade?
The anxiety, pressure and stress leading up to the exam… Not fun and not healthy.
Schools provide students with all the tools to do well on the exam. If the student attends class, listens to the professor and do the readings – they should pass. These steps work, but ultimately schools leave students totally unprepared from a mental health standpoint.
The weeks leading up to an exam ravage the mental health of students. This is primarily because schools do not teach students the skills they need to manage the anxiety, fear and stress they are to face in a healthy way.
Only now are schools starting to look at mental health more seriously. Thousands of research papers have proven that maintaining good mental health during stressful situations can substantially increase performance and productivity.
So why is this important to a sales leader?
Because a similar scenario exists within sales except on steroids. It’s the environment sales people are living in every day and fluctuations in mental health impact sales performance.
“A Nationwide survey showed 83% of Canadians beiee stress itself is not universally negative, asserting that workplace stress can be positive or negative depnding on how the workplace supports and responds to the employee.” – Morneau Shepell
Salespeople face an unrelenting expectation to perform at a high level all the time. Coupled by an environment that is filled with potential rejection and mental health pitfalls.
Most companies give a salespeople the tools they need to succeed. A strong sales processes, scripts, KPI’s to hit and a repeatable way to fill their pipeline and hit target.
Though a strong sales process helps drive desired company results, salespeople and their mental health is often left totally unprepared for the day to day grind. They are continuously bombarded with client objections, the fear and anxiety of missing target, getting yelled at by their sales manager and the worst case scenario – fear of getting fired.
“Research has shown an average of 230% return on every dollar invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace.
This represents a 33% decrease in absenteeism, presenteeism and disability claims.” – PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Currently sales organizations and sales leaders are missing a massive, opportunity to improve mental health within their sales team, that leads to increased sales productivity, engagement and retention – the foundation for higher ROI.
Here are some ways a sales leader can start protecting and improving mental health within their sales team.
Build Trust Between the Sales Manager and Sales Representative
Whether they choose to acknowledge it or not – every CEO, Director of Sales and Sales Manager has battled mental health at some point during their career.
It is the responsibility of the sales leadership team to start the discussion about mental health and have an honest conversation with their sales team. Talk about when they’ve struggled with mental health, what they’ve had challenges with and ways they’ve learned to overcome them throughout their sales career.
Even though the discussion around mental health has become less taboo in society – very little has changed within highly competitive “Sales Culture.”
Salespeople will often still feel embarrassed or fear talking about their mental health struggles in the workplace. Sales leaders need to start the conversation and create a culture where it’s comfortable to openly talk about mental health.
In the past I’ve seen one meeting, openly talking about sale mental health, immediately strengthen trust bonds between a sales leader and their sales team.
Prioritize Coaching and Creating a Collaborative Sales Culture
A great sales leader and former colleague once told me – “If your sales team can commit to getting better at just one thing every week – the rest will take care of itself.”
Sales can be a roller coaster at times, which means building a sales culture that encourages sales rep collaboration can help mitigate motivation issues at the individual level. Collaboration within sales teams helps teach salespeople it’s “ok” to ask for help – fostering a good mental health culture.
Each week, sales leaders should start with a coaching session on one area within the sales process that they’ve identified as weak. For example – “Closing questions.”
Collaboration among the salespeople, can quickly generate a list of “top closing questions” for the sales team to use in the coming week.
Sales leaders can then create a small incentive that rewards the sales rep who successfully uses/reports feedback on the most closing questions that week.
Throughout the week, the sales leaders can use this as an opportunity to encourage sales reps to share best practices with other members of the team. Getting the team to work together, reinforces that it’s “ok” to ask for help.
At the end of the week, one aspect of the sales process will be better and sales team collaboration will garner better sales team dynamics that also support better mental health.
Creating a team incentive or contest using gamification is a powerful way to improve team morale and drive higher sales activity on a specific KPI. Keeping morale and motivation high will maintain positive mental health in salespeople.
Here is a very simple example of how you can use Gamification to increase Demo Sets by a sales team:
- Buy a mini basketball net for the office (think a cheap plastic net that hangs on the back of a door).
- On a whiteboard – create three columns for each sales representative: Demos Set, Shots Made and Total Points.
- The rules – for every demo set this week the salesperson will get 1 point and one shot on the mini basketball net.
- For every basketball shot a saleperson makes – add another point.
- Total demo set points and basketball shot points for the week on the whiteboard and the sales representative with the most points at the end of the week gets a free lunch with the sales manager (or some other reward).
The whiteboard creates visibility and team accountability.
The small action of taking a basketball shot forces sales reps to take small breaks to limit their daily burnout and create sales floor motion.
Then finally the lunch at the end of the week creates an incentive that rewards behavior.
Using gamification is a very easy way to improve mental health, increase morale and get the sales team excited about hitting their numbers.
Become an Expert in Mental Health and Share Knowledge in the Workplace
Finally – the last thing a sales leader can do to improve the mental health of their sales team is become an expert in how to deal with it.
This can be an entire future blog post in itself, however the brain is the strongest and most important organ in your body so it’s important to keep it healthy.
Some initial tools that have been extremely helpful for me personally and sales teams I’ve worked with are:
- Daily meditation – open this up to the team to do during the day.
- Journaling after a very stressful day before bed to release my thoughts, practice gratitude and limit spiraling.
- Using apps like Headspace or Relax Melodies to improve mindfulness.
- Reading books like The Untethered Soul that teach you how to keep perspective and stay grounded.
Maintaining positive mental health while working in an environment like sales that demands daily high-performance, has never been easy.
The best way to improve mental health is to start having a conversation about it.
About The Author
Jeff Riseley is currently the CEO and Founder of Top Gun Sales, which provides sales consulting services to startup, small and medium-sized companies.
Consulting services are designed to help sale teams predictably increase revenue and scale teams quickly, through the implementation of stronger sales processes. For a full list of how he can help — you can checkout Top Gun Sales here.