Sales can be a nerve wracking profession that often requires thick skin and unrelenting perseverance. But these qualities can often be hard to adopt for many sales professionals.
With the social and tricky communication demands of the profession, it’s all too common for anxiety to disrupt the workflow of salespeople, and that can impact your team’s ability to convert customers and meet their quotas.
There are plenty of scenarios within sales that could cause someone to feel anxiety. As a sales manager, you need to understand what is causing your team to struggle and how to help them overcome these obstacles so they (and your business) can thrive.
6 Common Anxieties in Sales
Sales is a demanding profession that requires many moving parts and touchpoints between salespeople and their customers.
Between reaching out, making a pitch, communicating with the customer effectively, and eloquently trying to edge them toward a purchase decision, there’s a fine art to sales that even skilled professionals can be overcome by.
Some of the most common sales anxieties include the following:
1. Hitting Quota
This one is pretty common for professionals everywhere in some form or another, not just those in sales. However, sales quotas are tracked particularly closely, so when the minimum isn’t met, it’s a clear indicator that the salesperson is not meeting the requirements for their job.
This is incredibly stressful, as they know they’ll likely get chewed out by their boss, and if it turns into a continuous pattern, they may even get fired.
Prospecting is an important part of every sales professional’s role, as identifying and reaching out to leads is essential for bringing in new business and revenue for your company.
However, reaching out to people whom you’ve never spoken to before can be extremely difficult, and crafting the right message to them can feel like scaling a mountain.
3. Fear of Rejection
Rejection is a pretty common occurrence in sales, and it’s not always done nicely. People don’t often enjoy being sold to, and there’s usually nothing more annoying than getting a cold call from someone trying to sell you something. So naturally an aggravated response is the norm.
But on the other end of the spectrum, if you were harshly rejected by people on a semi-regular basis, I’m sure you would come to dread the experience as well.
4. Lack of Training
Imposter syndrome is real folks, and the whole “fake it till you make it” motto doesn’t do much to settle anxiety. If a sales professional doesn’t have the proper training to help guide them through the necessary steps for closing a sale, then they’ll likely fumble and lose the customer.
Knowing and feeling like you’re unprepared to take on a task puts a big obstacle in your way. Sales professionals who lack training are essentially set up for failure, so it’s only natural that they’re going to panic a little bit knowing that they’re headed for a bad result.
5. Calling (Phone Anxiety)
Even as someone who’s not in a sales profession, I hate making and answering phone calls.
With the rise of texting, I think that has become the norm for people – phone calls have been edged out of the limelight because if you don’t have to physically speak to someone over the phone, why would you?
Unfortunately, most of the sales process is largely conducted over the phone. While cold calls are dying out of the regular sales routine, professionals are often still required to pick up the phone to talk to their customers.
This kind of communication is a lot more high-pressure than simply writing an email or sending a text, and if a salesperson says the wrong thing, they can easily end up losing the customer.
6. Recording Videos
If there’s anything worse than picking up the phone to talk to a customer, it’s getting in front of a camera. Today, it’s becoming more and more common to send recorded video messages to prospects to engage them and show your investment in their interests.
But sitting in front of a camera with that intimidating red blinking record light isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite activity, especially if you don’t have the best public-speaking or interpersonal skills. Or maybe you’re just having a bad hair day. Either way, it can be a daunting task that many sales professionals dread.
5 Tips for Leaders Helping Their Reps Overcome Anxiety Obstacles
As the sales manager, it’s your job to make sure your team has the support and resources they need to thrive.
Above all else, you don’t want any of your salespeople to be paralyzed by the fear or anxiety of certain tasks required by their role. But if this does happen, it’s important for you to be understanding and coach them through the situation.
Here are a few tips for you to utilize to help your team overcome their anxiety obstacles:
1. Change Their Perspective on Rejection.
One of the best ways to help your team overcome their fear of rejection is by changing their perspective on it. Encourage them to think of it not as a failure, but simply consider that perhaps your company’s services weren’t the right fit for the prospect’s needs.
It's easy for salespeople to take rejections personally, but adjusting their view of these situations will make it easier to deal with and move on from, so they can maintain confidence and productivity.
2. Encourage Research Prior to Reaching Out.
Sometimes, the best kind of cold call is actually a warm call. Encourage your team to gather as much information as possible before picking up the phone to reach out to leads and prospects. This can also help them craft emails more easily as well.
Before reaching out, your salespeople should be able to answer these questions about the prospect they’re about to speak to:
- What does their company do?
- How long have they been in business?
- What are their pain points/challenges?
- Who are their customers?
- How can your product/service provide value to them?
- What demographic does this person fit into?
- What are their daily challenges?
- What are their goals?
- How can your product/service provide a solution to their challenges?
By answering these questions, your team will feel more prepared for a conversation with their prospects, as they’ll have informational context that gives them an upper hand during the transaction.
3. Have a Safety Net (Script).
While we don’t recommend having a script to read off to all your prospects for every point of contact, having it there as a safety net is a great way to help your team feel supported and secure.
In sticky situations in which they’re dealing with a particularly difficult customer, they can refer back to the script to help them navigate the pathway of communication.
This is also a particularly useful tool to help reassure novice sales professionals who still need training wheels.
4. Suggest Small, Attainable Goals.
Encourage your team to focus on achieving small, attainable goals. Sometimes, with a looming quota requirement and lots of tasks ahead of them, it’s easy for salespeople to get overwhelmed.
By setting simple goals for each day, your team will be able to measure small victories and boost their confidence.
An example of an attainable goal would be to make two prospecting calls and send one recorded video message each day. It’s not an overwhelming amount, but it’s still productive. As your team builds up their confidence, you can slowly increase these goals to boost their productivity farther.
5. Block Out Time for Dreaded Tasks.
Sometimes the best way to tackle dreaded tasks is by scheduling a specific block of time to deal with them. If your sales team is experiencing anxiety about calling and prospecting, instruct them to set aside a certain amount of time each day, at the same time every day, to get it done.
By doing this, you’re minimizing the distraction and anxiety produced by having to carry out these responsibilities. For example, if your team regularly schedules their prospecting calls in the morning, then the hardest/most anxiety inducing tasks are taken care of early in the day.
Knowing this, they’ll be able to go about the rest of their day with ease.
Support Your Team
Anxiety is an incredibly common issue that millions of people struggle with. In fact, one in five people over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder in the United States.
With this in mind, there’s a good chance that some of your sales team members suffer from anxiety, and it’s a disorder that can often be exacerbated by the demanding responsibilities of their profession.
In order for your team to succeed, you have to treat them as individual people and understand that some will struggle with certain tasks while others will flourish. If anxiety issues are left untreated, they can easily worsen and become a serious impediment to workflow.
By following these five simple tips, you’ll become a better manager and be able to provide your team with the support and skills they need to succeed.