Stress management for sales professionals

In sales, to hit the numbers in time, sales reps are often seen dealing with added stress and pressure. Hear from Evan Patterson of talk about how he manages stress in sales.

stress management for sales pros

Sales is stressful. That shouldn’t be news to anyone reading this. However, there are many ways salespeople can respond to stress in a healthy way. Stress far too often can consume the life of a revenue-driving professional. Here are the strategies I use throughout my career to manage stress.

Prioritize your physical surroundings

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. That will make condensing the mess easier.

Time management & digital organization

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. 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.

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.

Jealousy, envy, and competition

An unfortunate truth is that a lot of stress for salespeople comes from 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 your stress levels and growth mindset over time.

For example, if a coworker is performing better than you, 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.

Think long-term and short-term simultaneously

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. You have to actively repeat a lot of these stress management through organizational strategies to future-proof your processes, pipeline, success, and overall stress management.

Quitting is for winners

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, or you simply don’t love the product, team, ICP, etc. - don’t be afraid to consider exploring new opportunities elsewhere.

You’re on this planet once, and there’s nothing wrong with knowing when to prioritize your own happiness. Life is way too short to spend it appeasing everyone else or being concerned about being seen as a “quitter” or a “job hopper.”

Use your PTO & set boundaries

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 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; 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.

Music, diet, exercise

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. I work out 30 minutes per day from home with the exception of days when I go to Orangetheory Fitness or I’m going dancing with friends; something I do quite regularly.

Do it

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.