Every customer hates the feeling of being pressured into buying something – you can hear the urgent neediness in a sales person’s voice when they’re desperately trying to close a deal, whether or not you’re receptive to the offer. Sales neediness comes from a place of stress. When a sales person feels like every customer is a make-or-break moment, they’re going to act accordingly.
Your challenge as a sales leader is to help your sales team avoid driving away customers with this kind of neediness by reducing their sales stress.
To reduce your sales stress, you need to focus on all the activities that lead up to closing a deal, and build a strong pipeline that protects you against the loss of a big account or the last-minute collapse of a promising deal.
Here are 5 ways to reduce sales stress for you and your sales team:
Maintain A Full Calendar of New Business Development
If your sales team is busy managing existing accounts and closing deals with repeat customers, it can be hard to persuade them to spend more time on prospecting. But the truth is, unless your sales people are regularly meeting with new business prospects, they are vulnerable to suddenly having the rug swept out from under them when their “busy” times come to a stop.
Being a sales person is like being a juggler – you have to keep multiple balls in the air at the same time; keeping your existing clients happy while also introducing a steady amount of new business prospects into your daily mix of activities. By always maintaining a pipeline of new sales opportunities on the horizon, your sales team can stay busier, happier and more profitable.
How does this reduce your sales stress? If you know that you always have multiple opportunities on the horizon, you’ll be less likely to “overdo it” in pursuing any of your current prospects. It takes the pressure off to know that even if one promising prospect doesn’t pan out, you still have many other people waiting to hear from you.
Take It One Day At A Time
Make prospecting into a daily habit. Do a little bit of prospecting work every single day you are at your desk. Even if you only have time for 30 minutes of calls, make sure you dial them. Depending on your sales conversion rates, a certain number of dials will lead to a certain number of appointments, which leads to a certain number of sales – but you can’t get the sales without making the dials.
Breaking up your prospecting into a daily repeatable routine helps reduce sales stress by lowering the stakes for every prospecting call. If prospecting is something you do every day, automatically, it becomes a low-stress, low-pressure activity – just part of your regular routine; nothing to get worked up about.
Instead of procrastinating and suddenly having to make a long list of high-stakes prospecting calls, daily prospecting helps you build a better pipeline that lowers the pressure for any individual sales call.
Every sales call requires you to do your homework. Have a plan for the call. Know why you are calling, know who you will be talking to, and know what you want to say to them. More importantly, be prepared to listen attentively to the prospect and uncover additional needs based on what the prospect is saying.
Understand what you are hoping to accomplish with each call, whether it’s getting a sales appointment, offering a sales proposal, or finalizing a time to meet to discuss closing the deal. Being prepared will reduce your sales stress because you will feel more in control of the situation, ready for any questions or objections that the prospect might raise.
It’s the difference between being a kid in school who didn’t do his homework and is trying to fake his way through the final exam, and a kid who came prepared and aces the exam with confidence. Who would you rather be?
Don’t Assume Too Much
Many sales people make the mistake of assuming that every so-called “qualified” sales lead is completely ready to buy. Unfortunately, different sales prospects have different standards of “ready to buy.” Some prospects might have indicated an interest in your solution just as a way of getting off the phone with whoever was making the lead generation calls. Other prospects might be interested in getting more information from you, but are not yet actively in the market for your solution.
Approach your list of “qualified” sales prospects with the expectation that you’re still going to have to do some work to build relationships, uncover customer needs, and align your solution with those specific needs. Managing your assumptions helps reduce your sales stress because it makes it easier to go with the flow.
If you go into a conversation expecting to have to build relationships, you’ll be better able to handle questions and objections along the way.
Keep Following Up
Many sales people make the mistake of only focusing on the highest-potential short-term sales leads because these are often more likely to buy now. But as part of building a strong sales pipeline, you also need to nurture your long-term sales leads.
Keep following up every few months with sales leads that had expressed an interest, or even the ones that initially said they were “not interested.” Circumstances can change at every company, and even a “not interested” prospect can become interested as their business needs evolve. Keeping up the daily, weekly and monthly routines of following up with sales leads can reduce your sales stress by uncovering unexpected opportunities, even from sales leads that your competitors might have overlooked.
Regular sales lead nurturing also helps reduce sales stress by making these activities part of the standard sales routine. Instead of a high-stakes, high-pressure, do-or-die sales pitch, your conversations can take on more of a friendly air of a trusted industry peer and colleague just checking in. Which conversation would you most like to be part of?
Sales can be a stressful job, but true sales professionals find a way to take control of the situation and reduce their stress levels by doing the incremental work every day of setting appointments, following up with sales leads, and dialing the phone.
If you approach the sales process as a long-term endeavor instead of a high-stakes last-minute do-or-die conversation, you can significantly reduce your sales stress and increase your sales conversion rate.
Stress Photo via Shutterstock