Selling can be a solitary occupation
Many people in sales or business development roles, whether they be full-time selling or split function sales roles, or field-based or internal office-bound sales roles, largely work autonomously. Their job is to be communicating with clients directly, often spending more time with clients (in person, over the phone, or through the headset) than they do with their own work colleagues.
Especially for field-based sellers the sense of isolation can become detrimental to their performance.
Unless you’ve actually spent endless hours driving from client to client, or town to town, had to cope with dealing with multiple client personalities and challenges back-to-back throughout the day every day, often without a colleague to chat with or to have a private ‘vent’, it’s hard to imagine the feelings of loneliness and remoteness that can creep into your head.
It can seem endless.
You’re all alone doing your work, even though you’re surrounded by people. And it’s easy to lose sight of how well you’re doing it.
For managers, take time to understand your team
That is why it’s important for sales managers, senior executives, or business owners, to take time to understand how their sales team are feeling, and to help them cope with their remote working environment.
It’s fair to say that for the modern ‘internal’ sales role, even though there may be a sense of remoteness due to the constant external client contact, it’s still much easier to be part of office social activities such as birthday cakes for staff, lunch breaks together, and general social exchanges than it is for entirely field-based roles.
Many companies still require a field-based sales team. From my work across dozens of such organisations I see many similarities in the challenges faced by individuals who are always out of the office working with clients.
The antidote to feeling isolated is for sellers to be more resilient
Resilience has been defined as:
- Springing back; rebounding.
- Returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
- Recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; being buoyant.
Resilience can be displayed in many different ways.
In individuals, it is often seen as optimism, resourcefulness, and determination. In teams, it is seen when team members support each other at work and solve problems creatively.
The effects of stress and frustration
Workplace stress can add to the sense of loneliness or frustration and can be triggered by workload, people, demands, and time pressures. The effects of stress may be experienced as feeling over-worked, stressed-out and run-down. This may result in:
- Losing sight and focus of your initial excitement, that is, why you are doing this role in the first place
- Finding yourself stuck in the ‘present’ – maybe in a rut – just being busy spinning your wheels.
- Losing your confidence and the motivation to be proactive.
- Not taking initiative with new sales opportunities (or other projects) in case it leads to more pressure.
- Spending less time on your personal needs such as health, family, friends and recreation activities.
How sellers can be more resilient
Maintain a positive attitude
- Avoid ‘black and white’ thinking and having an extreme reaction to what clients or colleagues say or do
- Look for the grey areas; consider a middle path; do not agree or disagree
- Be on the lookout for negative self-talk
- Think of new situations as a fresh start, or a blank canvas, where you can create the results you want
- Avoid feeling helpless by taking action to move things forward; even small steps are positive
- Be assertive in your dealings with others (not aggressive or submissive)
- Work to a plan so you can recognise your progress and successes
Build great relationships at work
- Make time to get to know your colleagues; when you’re in the office allow time just to chat about things other than client/project requirements (this isn’t wasted time)
- Attend work social events as much as possible even though sometimes you feel on the ‘outer’ as your office-based colleagues seem to know each other so much better
- Stay in touch using workplace chat systems to give others updates on progress or client activities
- Recognise you need a team behind you – you’re not always the Lone Ranger – and think about how that team can be most productive
Take advantage of your personal strengths
- Develop your self-awareness and self-understanding to recognise your strengths
- Proactively use your strengths/skills and give yourself credit for doing well
- Set realistic expectations of yourself, while still seeking improvement
Do more of the work you love
- Make sure you spend time on the activities you feel good about
- Organise your day so you accomplish things that are important for you
- Listen to podcasts, sitcoms or read a book that entertains you
- See the funny side to situations, even if it is frustrating
- Call a friend or colleague for a quick chat
Take care of yourself
- Take time for mini-breaks between sales appointments to recharge your mind, and be sure to take lunch breaks, preferably in a nice spot that gives you space to ‘breathe’
- Exercise in a way that suits you, whether that be a gym session, relaxation in your room, or walking around the town where you’re staying overnight
- Eat well when you’re out and about, avoiding too much junk
For assistance to help your sales team be more resilient and more effective in their role get in touch to discuss options for improvement.