Is being a sales rep stressful? A 100%. This report illustrates that with perfect clarity. But are there ways to manage stress in a sales job? Also, yes a 100%. Here are the strategies I use to respond to stress productively:
We know that sales is a high stress job. Which is why you need to set the tone with your environment. Whether you’re working remotely from a coffee shop, from your home, or from an office building, your physical surroundings can make an impact on your stress levels.
This means ensuring that your desk chair is comfortable, your headphones aren’t painful to wear, and that you have enough space on your desk to work with. Additionally, try to keep your area clean and organized. Having a clean and organized workspace, physically, can have a significant impact on your productivity.
As someone who prefers to work from home, my home office is a large space in my bedroom that has been carved out exclusively for work. It bothers me to high heavens when my bed isn’t made. That simple change of making my bed can elevate the “cleanliness look” of the room and has a positive impact on my day.
Working from an office? Get into a habit of resetting your desk back to its ideal state, in terms of cleanliness and organization, at the end of each workday. Perhaps get a coaster and a personal trash bin at your desk if you’re someone that snacks or drinks from your desk often.
Continuing this pattern of focusing on your environment: there’s organization to be done with time and your digital life too.
Before we dive in, pick one day to dedicate time to this; ideally a day you’re not working.
Organize your Google Drive, Email Inbox, etc. with proper folders and tags. If you’re anything like me and you use Google Drive, Gmail, Canva, and Google Calendar religiously, you need to keep these color-coded, tagged, and/or organized to stay sane and ease that sales anxiety that creeps up. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask some coworkers to show you how they sort theirs or go on a search via YouTube or Google about organizing digital tools like these.
This goes one step further if you’re working with tools like Salesforce, Outplay, etc. - even those tools require effort to organize. Don’t be afraid to have some quarterly clean-up or reorganization on your own instance of these tools; even if you’re pretty good at organizing as you go. Dedicating the time to evaluate your organization of these tools will have a long-term impact on your productivity.You're already facing sales pressure. You don't need to do it with a cluttered tech stack.
Don’t forget: Put your notifications on autopilot in Slack and other programs that could distract you throughout the day. That means creating a notification schedule in Slack so you don’t have to remember to turn them on and off. Do the same for your work computer and your smartphone. Furthermore, apply all of this logic to your personal email, smartphone apps, etc.
An unfortunate truth is that a lot of stress in sales jobs comes from reps seeing their coworkers succeed while they’re struggling. It’s easier said than done, but shifting the perspective with the words you use to yourself and others can make an impact on the sales pressure you put on yourself.
For example, if a coworker is performing exceptionally, instead of “wishing” you were doing as well as they were (which is a natural feeling, I get it), try to shift your mindset to “this could be an opportunity for me to learn how to improve from someone.”
Turn the negatives into positives whenever it's realistic and logical to do so. This is one example, but I’m sure there are plenty more you could apply this logic to. And if it's achieving quotas that triggers your sales anxiety, look for resources or best practices to give you a leg up.
Whether it’s organizing the CRM and your Google Drive, or filling your pipeline with qualified opportunities regularly so it doesn’t dry - thinking about this month, this quarter, and next quarter, too, is super important. It can’t be just about what’s happening right here, right now always. Make sure to not get too comfortable with the short-term working out and assuming it’ll sustain on its own passively. A big part of how to deal with sales stress comes from organizational strategies that future-proof your processes, pipeline, success, and overall stress management.
Sometimes it’s them, not you. The honest truth is that for some of us, the best way to manage stress is to leave the environment we’re in. A phrase commonly used for people coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that translates well to stress management is “You can’t heal in the environment that hurt you.” If you’re in a toxic workplace, if you're asking yourself 'how to manage stress in a sales job' too often, or you simply don’t love the product, team, ICP, etc. - don’t be afraid to consider exploring new opportunities elsewhere. If you aren't being heard, you're not in the right place, and that's not limited to sales.
Like we said before - are sales jobs stressful by nature? Absolutely. But when that crosses the line to toxicity, you know what you have to do.
P.S.: I loved this blog on what a healthy sales culture should look like
I’m someone that keeps my calendar updated religiously. I have very clear work hours shown to everyone on my team. I promise you that email or Slack message can wait till tomorrow morning. Do your best to set clear boundaries and expectations on how much, how often, and how long you’ll be working throughout the week. Prioritize non-working time and take time off to recharge and rest. Not working is great for work. Stop working so much, you’ll actually do better and ease your sales anxiety faster when you prioritize resting when you need (or want) to rest.
P.S. You don’t need a reason to take PTO other than simply wanting to or catching a break to ease that sales pressure; it doesn’t need to be a doctor’s appointment or a vacation. It’s okay to take time off “just because you need time off” - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I hope this isn’t news to anyone, but please try to remember that what you do with your body and free time has a massive impact on your work life too. If you love music and it puts you in a certain mood that benefits your work, try to incorporate more music into your environment throughout the day, even if you’re not working. I almost always have music streaming on Spotify somewhere in my apartment at any point in the day.
What you eat or drink, especially for breakfast or lunch, has a massive impact on your brainpower throughout the day. Lean into superfoods, foods that are filled with nutrition, and try to minimize (or avoid altogether) junk food.
Lastly, ensure that you’re getting at least 30 minutes of dedicated exercise per day. Whether that’s going on a walk, hitting the gym, or committing a 15-minute workout in the morning and a 15-minute walk in the evening - just get your body moving. P.S. : Reading is a great stress buster too. If sales stress and sales anxiety are all you can think of, remind yourself what you drew you to sales in the first place with some inspirational reading. Catch yourself at the 'why is sales so stressful??' moments to switch to, 'hey, sales can be pretty exciting.'
We could go on about the lifestyle changes and organization tips that can help a salesperson improve their stress management skills; so consider this the start. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s okay. Most importantly, remember that you’re human. This is and always will be imperfect. Give yourself that permission. Sometime ago, we spoke to 4 sales reps on how they deal with their own version of sales anxiety. Here's what they said. I hope it helps you in some way!
Oh, and before you go, here's something that keeps me going.
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