Performing Under Pressure Without Burning Out
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Working in sales can bring a combination of career highs and potentially lows. The stress from working in sales can be attributed to the pressure it brings to sales leaders and reps: the pressure to hit quota, the pressure to satisfy the needs of prospects, and the pressure to perform at a high velocity with comprehensive knowledge of the product or service one is selling.
With remote work, the lines have often been blurred between work and home. In a recent study, 67% of reps reported feeling they are close to reaching burnout. Sales enablement professionals can help manage the stress and pressure put upon sales leaders and their reps by helping to control what is often challenging to control: the resources, tools, coaching, and systems needed to sell effectively. Through guiding reps and practicing strategies to regain control, efficiency, and performance, enablement professionals can lead teams over the obstacles of pressure and into a place of balance.
“We are all in the business of change in sales enablement,” said Jill Guardia, executive director of sales enablement at TriNet. “Changing around us, changing the selling environment, changing the leadership team are all transitions that you have to deal with regularly, but be open to what that means to you and how you can learn something.”
With change can come uncertainty and the pressure to excel at first brush. Read below to find the three best practices enablement professionals can execute to help reps and sales managers perform better under pressure and arm teams with the support they need.
Prioritize and Focus on Driving Impact Over Time
Mounting pressure can sometimes feel like a loss of control with not having enough time or feeling like the result won’t be as effective or impactful due to the stress of trying to perform at a high level. Enablement professionals can help sales teams focus on long-term performance growth by understanding the impact of a rep’s outreach efforts to demonstrate and help map out a growth trajectory that shows progress or helps to understand what needs to be prioritized.
“We build out scorecards to benchmark and really understand impact over time,” said Teri Long, vice president of sales enablement at CB Insights. “It’s become a way to focus on overall performance and growth trajectory. When we coach to this, we oftentimes say, ‘hey, let’s start with the end in mind. Where do you want to be? What’s the baseline, and how do we help you create that roadmap to get there? What are those levers that we need to help you with?’”
Enablement teams can help sales professionals understand the data that most tells of their impact on a customer or prospect. By recentering the outlook on business outcomes to focusing on the overall performance journey, sales teams can understand what key performance indicators matter most to the organization and how this can improve their approach to speaking with buyers. Enablement can show trajectory indicators that determine the strength of the buyer journey and even help look toward the future and prioritize the long game to help drive continuous improvement and overall impact.
“While success can shift over time, have clear milestones of what the element of success could look like one month from now, three months, six months, a year,” said Long. “In a world where we’ve got so much focus on instant gratification, we really have to rewire ourselves to understand some of this takes time. Everything that we’re working on is a shorter long game, but getting to where we’re going to need to be is a long game.”
Celebrate Small Wins
A motivated sales team feels supported and encouraged not only at the end of the quarter but every day. Sales enablement leaders can help elevate this encouragement by recognizing and appreciating the wins of their teams and reps, no matter how small or large. Recognition can help reps succeed and leave a positive ripple effect throughout the sales organization by showing solidarity, community, teamwork, and letting accomplishments break through the regular cycle of a day’s work, cutting through the constant busyness.
“You want to raise the visibility of short-term wins,” said Helen Cummins, head of enterprise field productivity and readiness at Amazon Web Services. “I have found it really important to publicly recognize and reward people who are moving things in the right direction. It really sets the right tone.”
Celebrating successes also bond teams together and pushes reps to want to improve their own performance while also supporting their peers by recognizing their wins and providing feedback. Whether it be through public announcements, prizes, or peer-to-peer shoutouts, enablement can help build positive relationships with the field by investing in recognition.
“It’s important that you, whether you’re a team of one or a team of many, really look across the sales organization and make the time to invest in building those relationships,” said Guardia. “It’s about making that investment in the individuals throughout your organization that gravitates to you, gravitate to enablement, gravitate to the content and the programs that you’re delivering.”
Validation and recognition can serve as important sources of motivation for sellers to continue to seek out wins while simultaneously reinforcing a positive mindset and behavior to achieve success.
“We’re seeing that when we see the right performance, we need to say something, we need to recognize it,” said Long. “Validation can be a key driver in moving the needle on performance.”
Utilize Data for Insights on Challenges
If a sales enablement team wants to dig into the “why” of a particular trend or behavior among sales reps, it is important to take time to understand what the data can show. Data helps enablement leaders better understand what may be the cause of certain pressures reps are experiencing, which can help enablement intervene to redirect energy or improve processes.
With actionable insights collected from trends in sales performance, buyer insights, and more, enablement teams can give feedback to sales leaders that may help ease the pressure on their reps and alleviate some of the challenges that may be becoming more commonplace.
“Data can really help us better understand the insights around leading and lagging indicators,” said Long. “That data gives us immediate feedback, and it can help us with our sales leadership team course-correct more quickly and rather than stalling out and not making changes as quickly as we might need to.”
Data can also allow for a win-loss analysis to be performed which brings forward more insights into how to make positive changes to help enablement teams and reps to succeed during a challenging deal or quarter.
“Taking some time to do win-loss analysis has been really helpful in taking those insights and making them actionable, providing that information back to the product, to marketing, to sales leadership, so we can pull different levers again to actually affect change,” said Long.
Implementing these practices can be an impactful way to jumpstart helping reps, sales leaders, and overall help the sales organization perform better under pressure. While pressure can have a negative connotation, there are moments in sales when pressure can build up a team and an organization to strive for the best. However, for pressure to be purposeful and motivating, sales enablement professionals can try to mitigate the negative implications that can surface alongside it. These strategies can help reps and leaders overcome high-pressure situations and turn them into an opportunity for success.
“When I say diamonds get created under pressure, coming out of all of these constraints and external pressures, we created an award-winning sales enablement program,” said Uttam Reddy, vice president of global sales enablement and commercial operations at Rackspace Technology. “If we just did this without the pressure of the external factors, I don’t know if we would’ve gotten there.”