5 Top tips for managing your stress and resilience

Two of a sales professionals best and worst friends, as a sales manager or sales professional you get your fair share of rejection and challenge either from your customer’s, your brokers, or your people so sales people need to be made from  steely tough stuff.

Does this come naturally though or are their techniques to help you develop your resilience and manage your stresses better? Here we talk about how resilience can work  for you and how to manage your Stress levels better.

Stress is often seen as a bad thing, but not all stress is a bad thing, and this is what I wanted to comment on first.

In a sales environment stress can have a positive impact on performance, create a desire to stretch you and really spur you on to compete with others and even yourself. This type of stress is commonly known as “EUSTRESS”, that positive feeling when you are so close to your goals or your targets that you get that nervous energy when each sale gets you closer!

It’s only when that stress becomes unmanageable that is starts to eek in to the realms of the stress that most of us tend to feel which is “DISTRESS”. The feeling that you are running out of time, you have an unmanageable deadline that you can’t avoid but still juggling a million other things, this is when it can become too much and tips you over the edge.

Having experienced both Eustressand Distress, I can say that the latter is one I firmly don’t miss but at the same time it helped me to create ways of managing my stress better so that I don’t find myself being distressed all that often and become more resilient.

Any job can become stressful, working environments are often stressful places and letting that stress show to others can often create a vicious circle that feeds the rest of your team or creates tension in the air so it’s important to have some good coping mechanisms for this, I’ve detailed some of the ways I’ve managed stress and things that have helped me in the past, I hope they work for you.

1.     Control what you can influence and Influence what you can control.

So often we let things that aren’t within our control consume us and they become our focus for the whole day, leading to distractions and suddenly you are asking yourself what you’ve done all day? My advice to line managers and sales people in organisation’s in the past is if you can’t influence it you need to let it go, this isn’t to say it shouldn’t be reported but the right people need to be aware of it and if that’s the extent of your involvement then so be it, you then need to move on.

Knowing what you can influence is also extremely important as these are the factors that should get your more success and more impact across your sales performance or across your team you’re your organisation so knowing these and writing them down and having a plan of how you control them and what you want them to be is also a good idea. You will find as soon as you start to influence some of these levers even to a small degree it will help in your sense of achievement but also distracts you from those things that simply aren’t within your gift to do anything about.

2.     Focus on each thing as it comes.

More often then not we look at all the things that need to be done and try to do a little bit of each thing, research has shown that if you try and do a little of everything you end up doing it less productively and it actually takes longer, so tip is finish one thing at a time but prioritise them in the order that’s either

a. High Importance

b. Time Sensitive

c. High Risk

You are not superhuman what ever you think, you don’t have the power to hold the world on your shoulders and you shouldn’t have to. I have personally been in that space where you think, “if I come in a couple of hours early and stay couple of hours later then everything will be okay”…it’s not the work expands to fill the time, like traffic, create a new lane and you think that the traffic will die down, it doesn’t more people choose your route and suddenly you are back to square 1 again.

Number one tip and probably the hardest I’ve balanced with is limit the number of hours you work to within 10% of your scheduled work time – this is hard but your really need to be as disciplined as you can or you will burn out and you become less productive even for the extra hours that you are in!

Having a plan and using to do lists also helps, things that get written down are more likely to get done and that helps you visualise what you are working on and gives that sense check if are you doing too much. If you are you can then whittle these down and rank them in order of importance, often it’s the items we least like doing that we avoid, so as Mark twain famously said:

“If you know you have to swallow a frog, swallow it first thing in the morning. If there are two frogs, swallow the big one first.”-Mark Twain

3.     Manage your stakeholders including your boss.

How many times has your boss or someone else in your organisation said “oh can you just do one more thing before you go”or “could you get me that by tomorrow.”These things will happen as your business is constantly moving and multiple people have their own agenda’s and there is only one you! Managing your time is a negotiation and you are the negotiator, so link back to what’s on your workstack and let people know what’s on it and get their support to help rank it against the other deliverables, what’s most important? Is this more important than the other things on your list?

If what’s being asked can’t be moved, then you need to agree what deadlines can be extended? What extra resource you can have to help support you? Who can you delegate tasks to in your team? The need to manage upwards as well as across your team and your peers is important in helping you manage your resilience and your stress levels.

4.     Negotiate and compromise on your time -it’s valuable.

People naturally by their nature don’t like to say no or don’t want to feel like they are being obstructive so will quite happily take on more work when they don’t have the capacity and then say, “don’t worry I can manage.”

This is also code for ,I’ll just work lots of extra hours to get it done. Falsely creating the illusion that you are delivering work within your core hours doesn’t help anyone and quite often its goes unnoticed as, you didn’t tell your boss that you stayed up late at night to complete it, or that you were the first one in switching on the lights this morning, you perceive this to be a sign that you can’t cope with the workload. The reality is you create your own problem by absorbing the workload in the first place. Trust me I’ve been there, I’ve used the line “I’ve got broad shoulders I can get it done” but the truth is you don’t have to you just need to learn to say “no” or compromise try:

“That timeline isn’t going to work for me because I’m busy with this project until this date”” or “How urgent is this piece of work could it wait until next week”etc.

The important part is that you create that arena for negotiation on your time as it’s as much a commodity as the products or service you are selling, don’t be afraid to share what’s on your plate as your boss or your colleagues aren’t psychic and they will add more on, the chances are people are adding to theirs too so it’s down to you how much you take on.

5.     Make sure you create some “me” time.

Stress manifests itself in so many ways and can creep up on your without you even being aware but there are ways to help reduce it and you have to define some specific time for you, for example I’ve seen so many people say “oh I can’t go to the gym, I just don’t have enough time at work”, or “I’ll just work through my lunch to get this done.”

Agree with your team and your boss what your list of “No Go” items are that you won’t give up. Some things that just are non-negotiable no matter what the workload is and when you find yourself infringing on these then it’s time to have the discussion with yourself, are you taking on too much?

In summary managing stress and being resilient is a constant battle to get right and sometimes you may let it overcome you but use some of the principles above to help you get back on track and you will be back to your “Eustress” self in no time.