How to Cultivate a Mentally Healthy Sales Environment
Whilst many, nay likely all of us have suffered at least some form of negative impact throughout the pandemic so far, the already high-pressure environment of a sales career has undoubtedly seen some of the most concerning spikes in poor mental health in the workplace.
When performance is so finely attuned to the financial wellbeing of your family, livelihood etc, yet so easily influenced by outside factors, it adds more stress to what’s already largely considered one of the most stressful professions out there. So, as business leaders, it’s more important than ever for us to cultivate a healthy, safe sales environment for the betterment of our employees’ mental health.
How to go about doing so?
1.Prioritise stress management techniques as a benefit of the job
Encourage your staff to take regular breaks, and get active during them – stepping away from their desk (whether back in the office or a makeshift one at home) just to stare at another screen, this time that of the TV, isn’t really disengaging. Exercise is a key player in the stress-management toolbox; is there a subscription you could provide, like Calm for meditation or 8fit for workouts? These are things that your employees may not want to pay for themselves, but it’s a small outlay from your end which could hugely benefit the mental health of your salespeople.
2.Encourage creativity; new ideas to solve new problems
The truth is, whilst the overall activities of a sales job likely remain the same, the objections and circumstances surrounding every call have changed. This means that the same old training and support being offered likely isn’t going to cut it. Get the team together (whether in-person or virtually) to hold regular discussions about what they’re coming up against, ways in which they’ve managed or attempted to get around these challenges, and how they might do so better moving forwards. Not only will this help drive performance in general, but just the camaraderie and understanding that everyone’s facing the same issues, everyone’s in it together, will go a long way to promoting the positive mental health of your team. Creativity in unprecedented times comes second only to adaptability in terms of success moving forwards.
3.Communicate with each and every member of your sales team, daily
It’s often easy to tell when a member of your team isn’t doing so well, more so in sales than other professions; they’re not as forthcoming, involved, communicative in general. This is something we all as business leaders should be aware of, on top of, and make a huge effort to mitigate – if you feel like something’s off, it probably is. Communicating with each salesperson each day, even if only in short, will make sure you pick up on any potentially negative mental health developments, and be able to try and help from the off; getting to the root of the problem is key to solving it. Not only this, but simply the act of taking the time to communicate individually will strengthen the relationship between manager-employee and leave everyone much more likely to express if they are feeling under the weather or struggling in any way. We all know that mental health simply isn’t spoken about enough, so now is the time to change that.
4.Last but not least, be realistic, agile and understanding
I’m not saying that we should all be given an excuse to underperform against sales targets here; simply that sales targets are very likely going to need rethinking, for the most part. Each situation, industry, product or service needs to be given its fair due in terms of what’s realistic right now, and targets or expectations adjusted as such. Unrealistic targets are one of the largest factors to underperformance in sales regardless of the pandemic so, now more than ever, take the time to thoroughly research and understand what your team can achieve – which might change from day to day, even. Stay agile in your approach to setting expectations. And give your salespeople who, like all of us, are likely suffering some outside pressure, something realistic to aim for.
Cultivating a mentally healthy sales environment is something that all business leaders, managers or otherwise decision makers should take pains to do – what could be more important?
It’s something we’ve been advising clients on for years – not to mention developing our own. If you’d like to talk more for some general advice, or to ask any questions you might have about mental health in sales, it’s a subject close to my heart – leave me a comment below, or drop me a DM here on LinkedIn.