Stress management – not a new concept to any sales professional… but still one worth talking about, especially as the new year brings about new business and new challenges.
“Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive – such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.”
We’ll discuss both the positive and negative aspects of stress, as well as how to cope with and manage the effects.
The Positive Side of Stress
Stress can be good when it’s spurred on by survival instinct – like adrenaline. It can also be a healthy thing in a professional capacity – at the end of a quarter for example when you are rushing to meet deadlines and need that added “kick” to get the job done.
Or if you have a big presentation and you get nervous beforehand. This is a sign that you care – an indicator that you plan to deliver, and deliver well.
For example when people say, “I work better under pressure,” that stress can be galvanizing, a force for good.
In the short term this kind of “stress” can be a motivator, cause you to bring your A game, and really help productivity. It may lead you to over-prepare.
There are ways to channel and embrace the intensity; it can often be more harmful to ignore or discount those feelings.
With that being said, stress is not healthy when sustained for too long.
The Negative Side of Stress
There is a great deal of research out there which proves that stress, over long periods of time, is bad for your health. The hormones released during a stressed state, such as cortisol, can adversely affect your mood, your weight, your behavior, etc. According to WebMD, 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
In a professional capacity, too much stress makes you a desperate salesperson – your tone and actions betray your anxiety. You become less OtherCentered(R) and more self-serving, out of fear and worry. You may start giving out discounts, undervaluing yourself, your time, your company, and your offering.
4 Ways to Avoid Negative Stress
To mitigate these negative aspects of stress, we’ve come up with a few useful ideas for those who sell for a living:
1 – Focus On What You Can Control
It’s like that old saying, the Serenity Prayer: give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Know the difference, between what you can control and what you can’t. In your personal life, it’s things like the weather, airplane delays, other people’s moods and actions, that you can’t necessarily impact or change. On a professional level, companies get acquired, people get fired, timelines change, budgets change – these things are not in our control (as a salesperson).
This is not our burden to carry. We need to focus on the things we can control, influence, change or accomplish. Work on productivity, activity, breaking down goals into smaller steps, making progress.
Serve your customers well. Change your endgame: shift your focus from winning the deal (ultimately not in your control) to serving your customer (completely in your control), you will be more successful.
This will automatically eliminate a great deal of stress and worry from your plate, throughout your sales process.
2 – Stop Procrastinating
“There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. For Tracy, eating a frog is a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task — but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.”
If you had to eat a frog each day, would you cut it into tiny pieces and take your time, would you put it off all day, letting that horrible task hang over your head, or would you get it done first thing?
While a somewhat silly and surreal example, it drives home the point well. Once you “eat that frog” you’re done, it’s behind you, you can stop stressing about it. Accomplishing your biggest task early, sets you up for a better and more productive day.
Procrastinating will not serve you well when trying to reduce stress.
3 – Use Carnegie’s 3 Step Process
It’s impossible to completely avoid stress altogether. So when stress does strike, which it inevitably will at certain times, what do we do?
- Determine the worst case scenario
- Accept that scenario
- Focus your energy on avoiding that scenario, or improving that scenario
This can apply to anything, personal or professional. For example, say you are running late for a meeting:
Worst case scenario? You miss the meeting completely.
Can you accept that? You have to – it is (likely) not in your control. Other people in that meeting have probably missed meetings before due to traffic, weather, family emergencies. You’re not the only one who has ever missed an important meeting.
In this instance, you may call ahead and explain you will be a few minutes late, apologize, and ask if they’d like to reschedule. More often than not, people will be more than accommodating and work with you.
The point is, it is better to reframe the situation in your mind and focus your energy on what you can do to improve the situation, than sitting there and stewing about everything that could go wrong. From personal experience, I can tell you that this three-step process will help you reduce stress.
4 – Take It Out of Gear
Oftentimes, our mind gets going and runs away with us. Take it out of gear for a moment by interrupting your day (your stress) with meditation or exercise. Clear your mind.
For some, a brisk walk or session at the gym does the trick. Build in the time to just do it. The payoff is not simply worth it, it’s essential.
While this may sound like corny advice, it does have real impact.
Wrapping it Up
Taking the time to reduce (and then also deal with) stress is crucial in both our personal and professional lives. We don’t want to take it out on co-workers or loved ones, or even ourselves. Small steps can have a huge impact.
If your pipeline is causing you stress, check out our Virtual Selling Program. Maybe some self-development is all you need.
As President of ASLAN, Marc is responsible for all day-to-day operations including our sales and marketing efforts and growing our success in helping our clients be Other-Centered®.