12 Ways to Handle Sales Pressure

It’s common knowledge that working in sales is hard. Yet—what most people don’t understand is the extent to which sales pressure can negatively impact an organization.

Consider this: a recent survey ranked ‘sales account manager’ as one of the most stressful jobs in the US, with 73 percent of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.” (source)

In today’s post we explain the effects of sales pressure and provide ways to mitigate this stress productively. Keep reading!

The Impact of Stress in the Workplace

So, how common is workplace stress? According to one study, eight out of ten people say they’re stressed from work (source). If this number doesn’t concern you, it should. Here’s why: 77 percent of people who feel stressed at work suffer from physical symptoms and 73 percent suffer from psychological symptoms (source).

It’s also reported that, when a person suffers from stress, they’re unable to access previous knowledge or training and instead resort to an automatic response—typically shutting down, quitting, or losing confidence.

In sales, this automatic response can be a career killer.

Mitigate Sales Pressure and Increase Your Workplace Productivity

76 percent of all people report the top two causes of stress in the US are job pressure and money (source).  Because sales is often commission-based and money-driven, stress and pressure run rampant.

Although it’s easier said than done, as a sales rep or sales leader, it’s important to shift your focus to the activities that lead up to a sale. This way, you build a strong pipeline that will protect you should you lose a big account or sale at the last minute.

If you’re not sure where to start, try some of the tactics we’ve listed below.

1. Incentivize.

What we’re about to say is going to contradict every point we’ve made thus far—but hear us out: Stress can be beneficial for salespeople.

There’s no way around it, stress drives activity and sales managers know this. The key to sales success is to harness the right kind and amount of stress to motivate your employees rather than discourage them.

So how do you do this correctly? Incentivize your people. Consider building a quality sales scorecard. When you set an ambitious goal, or organize competitions, you put on the pressure in a healthy way and bring out the competitive nature in people.

With a sales report, managers can take a look at your sales metrics and conduct one-on-one meetings with your team to set realistic goals and offer rewards that will truly motivate.  Start small, and expand your incentive program as you learn and grow.

Reps, tap into your competitive side and accept the challenges your manager puts on your plate. If your manager knows how to motivate, they won’t ask you to do anything you’re not capable of.

2. Take it one day at a time.

While this advice may sound cliché, it really is important for sales reps to approach their quota one day at a time. Think about this way, if you don’t make prospecting a daily habit and only focus on the deals at hand, how will you meet your goals next month or the month after that?

If prospecting becomes part of your day-to-day routine, each call becomes less stressful and the stakes are lowered. This way, if you can’t connect with a prospect or lose a deal, you begin to form an “on to the next one” mentality—nothing to stress about!

If you save prospecting for the end of the month, your quota suddenly becomes much less attainable in the upcoming months. Do yourself a favor and build up your pipeline as you go.

3. Get the resources you need.

When you break it down, stress is relatively easy to cure—you either need less pressure or more resources to handle the pressure. Unfortunately, in sales, the pressure never lets up; there’s never enough revenue, clients, or deals.

So if your team is feeling unusually stressed, they likely need more resources. These resources may come in the form of sales enablement tools, more team members, or additional sales training.

If you’re a manager, conduct interviews with your team to determine where they could use a little more help. Are they overwhelmed with leads? Hire new talent. Are they having a hard time staying organized? Look for a better CRM. Need more pipeline? Look into prospecting tools.

If you’re a sales rep, don’t be afraid to ask your manager for more resources—they want to see you succeed.

4. Communicate.

As we’ve already referenced several times within this blog post, communication between reps and managers is key to achieving sales success.

If you’re a sales manager, it’s important to understand what your team struggles with most, what takes the most time out of their day, and what would help them better reach their goals. You will never get the answers to these questions if you don’t foster an environment of open communication.

If you’re a sales rep, speak up. As the age-old saying goes, “You can’t get what you don’t ask for.” If you need more resources, support or guidance let your manager know.

5. Manage your expectations.

If you’re a sales rep and you expect every sales qualified lead, or SQL, to be ready to buy, you’re sadly mistaken. As seasoned reps will tell you, the sales process looks different at every company.  So while one company might fill out a form and buy your product the next day, many are just collecting research for a purchase down the road.

Although it’s important to go into each sales call with confidence, if you expect each call to turn into a deal you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If a sales rep is repeatedly disappointed, that disappointment can soon turn to stress.

What helps most reps manage their expectations is to change the goal. Instead of focusing on a deal, focus on using each call to build a relationship. This will take the pressure off and increase your chances of making a sale in the long run.

6. Learn to say no.

Although most sales reps are accustomed to saying yes, sometimes stress can be mitigated by simply saying no. Whether it’s your manager asking about a specific deal, a prospect asking about price, or a colleague asking for help, sometimes you just need to say no.

Forget your fear of letting someone down and be reasonable. Can you handle your workload? Can you finagle a deal for a client? Or can you pick up a coworker’s slack? Don’t be afraid to say no and ask for help when you need it. Your manager can only set realistic goals if you’re honest with them.

7. Leverage sales analytics.

For managers and sales reps alike, analytics can be the key to relieving stress. Think about it, if you analyze your performance or your team’s performance over time, you can begin to predict how your actions will impact the bottom line.

For example, as a sales rep, if you understand the average number of calls it takes to make a sale, you can better predict your performance based on how many calls you make daily. If you’re not making enough calls, you won’t reach your quota. However, if you plan your day around these numbers, your monthly results won’t come as a surprise to you—mitigating the stress of not knowing.

As a sales manager, analytics can inform nearly every decision you make from assigning quotas, to territory size, to the number of reps on your team, to the amount of revenue you can expect your team to bring in. Get comfortable with your analytics and you’ll find your job suddenly becomes easier.

8. Take a break.

In sales, and any job really, it’s often frowned upon to step away from your desk or take time off. But sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to clear your mind and increase your productivity.

For managers, this means fostering a workplace environment that recognizes the need for an occasional break. Your employees should be capable of recognizing when they’re burnt out and should feel comfortable telling you so. Be receptive to this honesty and reap the benefits when they return rejuvenated and ready to sell.

For reps, this means admitting to yourself that it’s time to take a break. Whether this means a long lunch, a walk around the block, or a week away—recognize how important it is to give yourself a break. Doing the same thing day in and day out can get old fast—don’t lose your drive to sell because you’re burnt out.

9. Keep your calendar full.

We’ve already made reference to the importance of a full pipeline, but we can’t stress it enough. Managing relationships with current customers is important, but new conversations with new prospects is what keeps companies in business. Remember to juggle your responsibilities evenly.

While it may seem counterintuitive to keep yourself busy, it really does reduce sales pressure. Think of it this way, if you have ten calls on your calendar today, are you going to feel stressed about the first one? Maybe a little. But what if it’s your only call of the day? That one call just became a lot more stressful.

Prioritize prospecting and keep your calendar and pipeline full.

10. Invest in contact data.

You can be the top sales rep on your team or the top team within your company, but if you don’t have access to high-quality contact data, you’ll never reach your full potential.  Consider the following statistics:

  • 62% of organizations rely on data that’s up to 40% inaccurate (source).
  • Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors (source).
  • 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data (source).

A contact information tool can not only remedy these issues but it can also cut down prospecting time, help get more decision-makers on the phone, and even help reps prepare for important calls. Here’s what else good data can do (source):

  • Companies estimate that they could increase sales by almost a third (29%) if their customer data was entirely accurate.
  • A strong organization can generate up 70% more revenue than an average organization based solely on the quality of its data.

If you or your team is struggling to find and connect with prospects, a market intelligence solution could drastically improve your efforts and reduce sales pressure.  Learn more here:

11. Always follow up.

80% of sales require 5 follow-ups, yet 44% of sale reps give up after only one follow up (source). Do yourself a favor and continue to follow up with leads and prospects. You’ll make more sales and reduce the stress of continuously finding new prospects.

12. Make preparation a priority.

As a sales rep or manager, you work hard to secure phone calls with important prospects—but once you’re on the phone it’s easy to lose focus or let your nerves take over. The only way to prevent this from happening is to prioritize your preparation.

When you’re prepared for a call you can anticipate objections, personalize your sales pitch, and have a genuine conversation with your prospects—ultimately erasing some of the pressure you feel to have a good call or make a sale.

Key Takeaways About Sales Pressure

When you reflect on the constant pressure sales reps face to convert prospects to customers, keep approval ratings high, and meet a quota—it’s no mystery where sales stress comes from.

The bottom line? Stressed employees aren’t good for business.  Make an effort to ease this sales pressure using some of the methods mentioned in this post. If you’re in sales and have additional ways to handle stress, let us know!

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn other ways in which you can improve your sales efforts and increase productivity.