Over and over we find in our data that top performing sales managers are viewed by their sales reps as leaders who are at their best when things get stressful. In other words, top sales managers are good at stress. But wait…stress is bad, right? In a recent whitepaper, we dove into the topic of stress and the impact it has on the sales leader role. [You can read the whole paper here] When we combine our research findings with guidance from experts on stress and performance, we start to see stress in a new way. In fact, stress takes on a role where it can have a positive role and be used to your advantage as a sales manager.
According to psychologist Kelly McGonigal, the way we think about stress matters. She talks about this topic in a TEDTalk you can find here. Traditionally, most people see stress as something that is only out to harm our mental and physical wellbeing and much research supports this thinking. But here’s the cool part. If we are able to reframe how we view stress and see the potential positive outcomes from it, stress becomes both physically and mentally healthier for us. Simply, if you think stress is bad for you, it will be. If you don’t, it won’t.
Hearing this message, of course, raised our curiosity as to how stress works in the realm of sales coaching. Low and behold, our research findings on what makes a top-notch sales coach supports this idea that stress isn’t inherently negative. In fact, data from our Through the Eyes of the Sales Rep survey shows a statistically significant relationship between how you respond to stress and your sales reps, and your team’s ultimate sales performance. According to our survey findings, over 67% of reps who have a top performing manager indicate that their manager is at their best when things get stressful (compared to 60% for all other sales managers). Your team performs better when you are in control of stress.
Based on information from experts on stress along with our empirical research findings, stress isn’t exclusively bad. Think of stress like Deadpool; not the prettiest and usually sourced from a bad situation outside of your control but containing the capacity for good. By thinking about stress in a different way, we see opportunity. Stress, and specifically our own response to stress, can instill confidence into our direct reports as to our ability to lead. It can provide guidance to our sales reps as to how they can handle hardships. Possibly most importantly, how we handle ourselves during stressful times influences our personal relationships. When we are able to harness the physiological and psychological side effects of stress to our benefit, we are able to build stronger personal relationships with our team members.
Stress is just part of the job for sales producers and sales leaders. What our findings show is that when you are able to engage stress and use it to your advantage, your sales team is more successful. How you handle stress as a sales leader matters to you, your team, and your sales goal attainment. To learn more about how to make stress your…subordinate, read our whitepaper entitled Harnessing Stress for Better Sales Coaching.
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