Mental health awareness week 2022: How managers can support their sales teams’ wellbeing.

Improve performance, progress careers

Anxiety and depression impact productivity, reducing cognitive performance 35% of the time. This is a statistic we feel needs to be more widely known this mental health awareness week, because whilst there’s been a greater focus on employee wellbeing due to the pandemic, businesses can’t let the momentum fade.

Here, our wellbeing coach, Laura Hayes, homes in on wellbeing in sales and how managers can support their teams.

The importance of wellbeing in sales

With KPIs to hit and a competitive team environment, working in sales can be stressful at times. Once the month is over, salespeople have to start again to meet their goals, which can lead them to suffer burnout and other mental patterns of self-doubt.

Managers need to be able to recognise the signs of team members struggling emotionally. This can be difficult, particularly when employees aren’t very open. But don’t be afraid to ask someone if they’re okay; present a safe space where they feel like they can talk.

I can’t emphasise enough the importance of encompassing everyone when it comes to supporting wellbeing. There’s a real age range on our apprenticeship schemes – some have been BDMs for 20 years and have kids at home, and an apprenticeship can be a real juggling act. There’s a generational gap when it comes to being open, so be an advocate for it.

Promote open conversations

I think it’s key to not be afraid to talk to people, yet so many won’t go to their manager about things that could improve their wellbeing. For this, I recommend creating an environment where employees know they’ll be listened to. Make it clear that they can share what contributes to them being at peak performance, and what will boost their development.

Likewise, managers shouldn’t feel scared to be open about their own vulnerabilities. Senior staff can often be seen as superheroes, but many struggle with imposter syndrome just like salespeople, or have experienced their own career difficulties like redundancy. By having those at the top open up, this will help to break down barriers and encourage team members to do the same. They can learn from your experiences and discover their own coping mechanisms in the process.

If you’re not having much success with opening up verbally, you or any team members can try writing down thoughts or feelings. It’s very cathartic, and something I’ve found really beneficial myself.

Recognise different mindsets

I think we’ve heard all there is to know about mindsets, so I’ll talk briefly about three different ones I think you should know about. A ‘growth mindset’ is about challenging yourself and listening to others. This requires a lot of motivation and openness – after all, your colleagues might have a different approach. When it comes to wellbeing and personal development, you need to understand what kind of person you are and what works best for you.

A ‘sales mindset’ is more about pushing yourself whilst being open to learning – acknowledging that, to be successful, you need to be in a good place within yourself. People used to wear stress as a badge and were seen as the best salespeople, but now it’s those who can adapt and grow. They listen to the customer’s preferences and adjust accordingly.

There’s also the idea of a ‘positive mindset’ – however, I don’t see this as the best route. It implies you must always be optimistic. But there will be days where things didn’t go to plan. When this happens, you should challenge yourself around the reasons why it didn’t, and work from there.

Tips for wellbeing in sales

If you’re in charge of a sales team, don’t wait until an employee comes to you with an issue or the company asks you to improve staff mental health. Instead, look into it of your own accord.

As a starting point, I have five tips for boosting wellbeing. These are small changes that can make the world of difference:

Put basic practices in place – this includes a bedtime routine (e.g. reading or meditating before going to sleep) and a healthy breakfast.
Make time for hobbies – don’t let work dominate life. Find hobbies you generally enjoy and be willing to try different things to see what suits you.
"Eat the frog" – this is something our apprentices find really helpful. It uses the metaphor of having a frog that you need to eat (aka a difficult task you need to do) that day, and getting it out the way first rather than delaying it. Some of our apprentices now have images of frogs in their workspace!
Pomodoro technique – this is where you set a timer for breaks. For instance, you could have 25 minutes for focused work, then 5 minutes for a break.
Listen to people around you – whether it’s loved ones or people at work, if someone says something to you about your mental health, listen to what they’re saying. From there, you can then take action.

I’ll leave you with this famous quote on mental health:

“The mind is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”
Idowu Koyenikan

If you’d like to know more about how wellbeing forms part of our coaching or how we support our apprentices, speak to us today.

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