Sales Resources .

Sales performance, Sales productivity

The Hidden Challenge of Sales

Written by

Mike Stokes

Sales is a rollercoaster of emotions. When you’re “on fire” life is good, you love what you do, the company you do it for and the people you interact with. Life is harder when sales are down, your manager is not helping by demanding more sales and even that great prospect you talked with last week you really can’t be bothered talking to. You don’t even consider picking up the phone to make a cold call. This is the time when salespeople start asking the questions about their career and the company they work for. This is the time when performance and productivity fall through the floor. Everyone in sales will recognise these emotions.

About 18 months ago we decided to run a programme we thought was so relevant that we were going to be oversubscribed. It wasn’t, and in fact it turned out to be the hardest programme we have ever had to fill. The reason was that despite high levels of interest from salespeople, their companies didn’t see the value in it.

What was it? It was a programme designed for salespeople to achieve an increase in productivity and sales performance by understanding their current mental and physical state and how they can “bounce” to be in a peak state. We were probably ahead of our time as it seems there is now a higher level of interest in mental and physical health than ever before. There is a realisation that you simply cannot perform to a high level in sales when you’re not firing on all cylinders.

We nevertheless ran that programme with Dr Sven Hansen from The Resilience Institute with great success. One notable outcome was that a CEO told me some months after the programme that four of his sales reps who attended all hit their sales targets for the next three months. This was significant considering these reps had never all hit their targets in the same month before - let alone three months in a row.

The World Health Organisation estimates there is a cost to the global economy of over a trillion dollars annually in lost productivity due to mental health issues created in the workplace. Whatever the actual number, we know a significant proportion of it will be directly attributed to the productivity of salespeople.

When we talk about losing productivity from poor mental health, it is important to state that we are not simply talking about diagnosed issues, but more about the ebbs and flows of life. Recognising that sometimes you are fully firing, and nothing can stop you, as opposed to other times when everything seems hard and energy levels are waning.

The Sales Health Institute states that the top three issues that cause mental distress in salespeople are:

  • Missing targets
  • Micromanagement
  • Being “ghosted” by prospects (not returning calls or communications)

We are not mental health experts, but one thing we can comment on is how valuable it is for salespeople and sales leaders to understand three important areas:

  • Being able to recognise your own mental state
  • Being able to recognise the state of others (either prospects or team members)
  • Knowing how to “bounce”

We like to think we play a role in supporting Sales Leaders and Salespeople in our Sales Syndicate and Sales Academy programmes. It is common for us to see the stress and strain on the faces of our members as they arrive at their monthly workshops only to see it reduce as they engage with others who have similar issues and challenges. You can call it a short monthly hit to do a reset and re energise. There is a similar opportunity for sales leaders or salespeople to do the same by simply talking openly to their peers or managers.

For companies it should be part of your culture strategy to support your people the best you can to help improve mental and physical health. There are plenty of organisations that can help with this. Global research shows that every dollar spent on wellbeing can provide a return at least four-fold, including reducing absenteeism, reducing staff turnover and compensation costs, building a happier, more productive work culture and boosting revenue. Not bad right?

Is it part of your overall company strategy?

Ps We are looking to put the ‘Productivity programme” back into the 2020 calendar, so watch this space.

About Indicator

Indicator provides expert training and consulting for sales leaders and CEOs who want to transform their capability, performance and impact in the market – for their teams and organisations.

We bring together like-minded people and industry leaders through consultation, training courses and the Sales Syndicate – the monthly programme designed specifically for sales managers and sales leaders.