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Five great tips for dealing with stress in sales


Let's face it -- there is stress in our lives. If you are dependent on closing sales to feed your family, there can be a tremendous amount of stress until you made your budget, quota or income for the month. And that stress returns month after month after month.

It's great to have solid selling techniques, a strategic plan and SMART goals, but when you are busy working your plan, if things take longer than you thought they would or should, does stress get the better of you?

If you face tight deadlines or have to juggle multiple projects, you are a likely candidate for stress in the workplace. Sometimes stress is constant and sometimes it sneaks up on you, for example if your top client suddenly pulls the plug on the business that would throw you into immediate stress.

When we are under stress, we are unable to access what we have learned through training, and we naturally revert to our most automatic conditioned responses.

When someone can cope with stress in a positive and resourceful way, we recognize them as calm under pressure. They can handle adversity, stay in control and deal with the situation at hand.

There are plenty of books, CDs and speakers out there talking about the virtues of balance. Frankly, balance is a myth. There are ups and downs that we have faced and will continue to face in our personal and professional lives. There is only one time when you will achieve true balance... also known as flat lining... and since you'll be dead, I would assert that balance is not worth aiming for!

What we really want is to be centered. According to Steven J. Stein, PhD and Howard E. Book, M.D. in their book The EQ Edge, "The more centered you are, the better you'll be able to absorb life's blows, and the healthier- both physically and mentally- you'll feel."

Being centered is about knowing yourself and understanding how you deal with stress so you can freely choose a positive reaction in stressful situations and avoid anxiety, depression, poor concentration and flawed decision-making. Knowing yourself means paying attention to your body's physical reactions and the self-talk in your brain.

Do you tell yourself you can handle it or do you hear yourself say, "Not again, I just can't take it anymore!"?

In selling, it's stressful when a prospect asks a question, and you don't know the answer. It's stressful when you heard "yes" but then they don't return your phone calls. It's stressful when you don't meet your sales goals. I have seen people with good selling skills leave the profession when it got too tough.

So how do you handle the stress? Are you prepared for stress? It's going to hit sooner or later, it's important to know how to deal with it.

Here are my top five strategies for dealing with sales stress:

1. Breathe. Just breathe. Take a moment, pause, collect yourself and get that oxygen circulating in your brain. The answers are in there, you just need to stir up the gray matter a bit and infuse it with O2.
2. Exercise. It is a well known remedy for depression and since depression is associated with stress there is a direct connection. Take time for yourself everyday to get the endorphins flowing.
3. Time out. Whether or not it is a good parenting strategy, I really don't know, but I am in favor of giving myself a time out to just listen to my own thoughts or listen to some music. It's hard to feel stressed listening to soothing music.
4. Ask for help. If you are feeling stressed, chances are someone you know has been there, done that. Reach out to your network, start a discussion on LinkedIn or within your industry association. You don't have to figure it out all by yourself, gather up the troops, order some pizza and talk through best practices.
5. Show up and try. One of our core values at SalesLeadership is "Show up and try" which is important because often times the stress is made worse by our agonizing. Get in there and take some action, any action (that is, after you breathe!) and it may be just the thing to relieve some stress.

No matter how long you've been selling in your company or your industry, stress will find you sooner or later. You are not alone. It's mission critical that you can handle the stress that will come your way because that will give you access to the selling skills you have or will learn.

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Merit Gest

Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com

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