Life in Sales can be one hectic roller coaster ride. That is, one day you are flying high hitting your target. And then the next day, you want out of the game as nothing appears to be working. Basically, Sales jobs don’t finish at the close of business each day. A client may be available for meetings only after office hours or on weekends.
That said, Salespeople are always switched on. Especially when they are behind on their quota and down on their KPIs. This consequently leads many to experience anxiety, mental fatigue, constant pressure, stress, and eventually, burnout.
It is time we talk about Mental Health in Sales
The cost of ignoring mental health in Sales is enormous. For those of us in Sales, we are at times all too familiar with the angst of not hitting target. Additionally, we fret that an account we have been working on for weeks, and sometimes months, may just be lost at the negotiation stage. And on top of all that, we are trying to juggle our professional lives with our private life. Concerningly, if we are unable to manage our daily stressors, the result is seen in a decline in performance. And more worryingly, a decline in our overall health.
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are quite common in the Sales industry. This is due to the high demand and cut-throat environment. It is often assumed, that Salespeople are overconfident, energetic, extroverted, and on-the-go. However, this is not always the case. Closing a deal can be euphoric but losing a prospect you have worked on for a long time can cause depression. And this consequently affects your overall disposition and mood. But do you know what? That Is OK!
Here are four common mental health problems encountered in the Sales industry:
- Behavioural and Emotional Disorders
- Clinical Depression and/or Anxiety
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
- Mood Disorders
Most of these mental health issues require medical and professional help. Having dedicated support and medical staff who are trained to handle such cases is necessary in ensuring the well-being of your employees. Crucially, creating a culture where work-life balance is encouraged and also prioritised also helps.
Importance of addressing Mental Health in Sales
A burnt-out Sales team is an unproductive team. WHO recently recognised burnout as an occupational phenomenon. The agency notes that burnout is only applicable in the occupational context and not in other aspects of life. Salespersons suffering from this mental health issue in the workplace experience the following:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from job or feelings of negativism/cynicism related to their job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Sales burnout affects the physical and mental well-being of sufferers in a myriad of ways. This includes:
- Fatigue and Sluggishness
- High Blood Pressure
- Anxiety and Depression
Help your team combat Mental Health in Sales by creating a healthy workplace environment for them. And also for you! Your own mental health is equally as important. But how do we create that environment that will help improve mental health and productivity? The World Economic Forum states it begins with an awareness of the environment we have in our workplace. Additionally, an awareness of how that environment can be adapted to improve the mental health of all types of employees. And fundamentally, how we equip our people, and ourselves, to handle stress and pressure.
Our People matter more than Quotas
A healthy and vibrant workplace is a product of strong Leadership and cohesive management. How a Salespersons and other employees are treated by their managers has a huge impact. That is, on how they feel about themselves and their work. Also, how Leaders manage their own stressors also has a massive impact.
Work-Related Risks to Mental Health
1) Poor Communication Practices
Knowing how understand others and how to communicate with team members is more than just assigning tasks. Poor communication between colleagues may lead to a negative workplace culture. That in turn results in below-average performances. And eventually diminished trust within the team framework.
It is crucial we all know how to communicate not just responsibilities but also encouragement. Additionally, we must know how to communicate constructive criticism. That is, we must learn how to have those difficult conversations. Leaders and managers need to be approachable. Plus, they need to know how to actively listen to their Salespeople. Fundamentally, we all must be open about discussions around mental health in Sales.
2) Confusing Instructions
When delegating tasks, make sure you are clear and concise. Clear communication helps guide your Salespeople into doing a thorough job.
The Quality of Our Communication Is Measured by the Response that We Receive
– Don’t Blame the Other Person If They Don’t Understand You!
When instructions are unclear, your team members might fail or make errors. Consequently. these mishaps can strike a blow to their confidence. And this ultimately leads to further mistakes. So, regularly ask your colleagues if they understand the task. Also, ask them if they need assistance. As a result, when employees are aptly guided, they feel valued. Moreover, they also do their job correctly. This in turn boosts their motivation and increases productivity.
3) Limited Decision-Making Participation
When managers take total control of decision-making, their colleagues tend to lose their sense of commitment in their work. That is, having an environment where they just obey orders makes them feel voiceless. And it also makes them feel helpless. You can prevent this by actively seeking their ideas. Especially when coming up with new plans or decisions. And many times, you will find their input may improve business practices. So provide a platform for all employees to share their thoughts and opinions. Collaboration is crucial.
4) Person not a Number
Treating your employees like numbers on a payroll can bring them down. Also not supporting them during their time of need can also impact their mental state. Additionally, Sales team members that feel their managers don’t care for them are likely to have low productivity and poor performance outcomes.
Make sure your team knows the company values their well-being. So support them when they ask for help. Such as decreasing their workload when they are struggling. Or give them ample time to recover when signs of Sales burnout are apparent. Visible concern for your employees can help encourage them to do better. Additionally, it fosters a positive workplace culture.
What are the early signs of a Mental Health problem?
Mental health concerns often go unrecognised and unaddressed. Consequently, this leads to bigger problems for the organisation and the employee. You can create a mental health positive environment to help combat this. But you still need to keep an eye open for early signs. That is so if you spot the signs of mental illness, you can make a much bigger impact with your support.
You can classify symptoms into three levels of severity. An individual may be experiencing differing levels of severity for different symptoms simultaneously.
The levels of severity are:
- Mild: A few symptoms, with little effect on day-to-day.
- Moderate: More symptoms that can make their daily life much more difficult than usual.
- Severe: Many symptoms that can make their daily life extremely difficult.
A panic attack can be an incredibly frightening experience. And several physical symptoms can happen all at once. Someone who is suffering a panic attack at work may begin to shake and sweat. Also they may struggle to breathe or experience a choking sensation. Additionally, they may feel as if their heart is pounding at a rapid rate. Or that they can feel pain in their chest.
Psychological signs can be harder to identify. Additionally, they may require you to be extra observant of employee wellbeing at work. The psychological signs may include:
1. Confusion and Distraction
While it can be difficult to notice these symptoms, you may have a hunch one of your employees is suffering. When you pair this symptom with another sign, it may indicate there is a mental health concern happening.
2. Memory Lapses
Lapses in memory can be one of the more recognisable psychological signs. Moreover, it may often lead to disorientation and confusion. There are many factors that can result in memory lapses, including overwhelming stress or experiencing trauma.
Noticing that a team member is uncharacteristically tearful may signal problems in their personal life. Or perhaps it is in fact they are going through stress or ill mental health. Regardless of the reason why, they may benefit from talking to someone or to know that someone can support them.
Many times, we can misinterpret behavioural signs as a poor performance or diminished work ethic or etiquette. This can result in an employee being wrongfully reprimanded.
If you spot such signals in a team member, perhaps try to speak to them or offer help without punishing them. The behavioural signals of someone struggling with mental health may be:
1. Agression Anger
Increased anger and irritability in a team member is a tell-tale sign of mental health disorders. This is especially so if this is an employee who is characteristically calm with usually a cool and collected personality.
2. Risk Taking
If a colleague takes a risk, or risks, that seem out of character this can be a potential signal of bipolar disorder. They also may appear to be making more impulsive decisions without thinking through the consequences. Disorders like this will need the help and support of a mental health professional.
3. Increased Absenteeism
Increased absenteeism from a team member may initially lead to disciplinary action. However, before it may be worthwhile having a conversation with them to make sure they are not going through personal concerns. Offering support and help to your colleagues and team may help to decrease absenteeism if there is an underlying cause that can be identified and addressed.
What Can You Do?
We all now have some further information about some of the potential indicators of unwell mental health. This means you are better equipped to spot these signs in teammates and able to offer the necessary support.
Implementing an employee wellbeing service may be a starting point to make the topic of mental health in Sales an open platform for discussion.
A well-being program shows your employees you are committed to caring for them and giving them the support they need to be happy and healthy at work. This is something you as a Leader may not personally be able to provide but have instigated to help your team, plus also a service you too may benefit from.
As a Leader you can only do so much, so encourage your employees to look to their support network of friends, family members, and mental health professionals. You can do this by making employees aware of resources such as the national suicide prevention Lifeline. This makes sure everyone receives support in all areas of their life.