Poor old salesperson. Forgotten by headquarters, out on the road braving the snow and ice, suffering winter blues, and facing up to yet more clients and prospects still shell-shocked by the state of the economy. How are they supposed to stay bright and breezy, especially as they hold on to a fragile new year’s resolution to drink less, exercise more etc. etc.? Given the pressures on sales people these days, is it any wonder they sometimes don’t perform at their best?
We believe that “resilience” is a core competence for sales people as performance expectations increase. Just as top athletes must be totally consistent in their practice, and holistic in their training, so must salespeople.
First to define resilience, we break it into 2 components: Mental resilience and physical resilience. A mentally resilient sales person has the ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. A physically resilient sales person takes a proactive approach to their health to have productive working time and avoid stress and burnout. Especially in the dark winter months, when many suffer seasonal affective disorder and vitamin D deficiency, managing our physical health takes creativity, discipline and effort.
And yet the rewards are backed up by research: The Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management (2008) reported that “The salesperson’s wellness lifestyle is positively related to performance and negatively related to stress”. And Harvard Business Review (2010) showed that “Organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower attrition compared to those whose programs have low effectiveness (9% vs. 15%)”
For sure salespeople have different constraints and opportunities in managing their personal resilience. For example, how to eat healthily when dashing between appointments with only the poorly stocked pie-filled service station for sustenance? Our own resilience model focuses on 7 drivers to try to help define areas of support: Physical self, stress awareness, personal organisation, strong metacognitive abilities, sense of purpose, personal health responsibilities and social support.
Achieving the right mix of these takes some careful thinking about time management and focus, but the rewards can be great. Dave Brailsford, performance director of the GB Olympic cycling team is well known for his approach the “science of marginal gains” i.e. improving everything by 1% leads to excellence. His legacy goes before him. We think the same approach can be taken with many aspects of sales performance. In this respect, resilience is a “foundation stone” of other good practices.
With the help of our own qualified RGN, Helen Wilcox, Selling Interactions is now active in the area of helping salespersons’ developing resilience and we’d love to hear your experience of the challenges you face and the solutions you have to keep yourself resilient. We will also be launching a research study into the area – keep an eye on our website for updates.
For now here are 7 simple questions to provoke self-reflection regarding your resilience in 2012:
1. How many goals did I set to manage my health and wellbeing?
2. How many days did I feel tired out from too much work?
3. Out of 52 weeks, how many did I exercise aerobically for at least 3 x 30 minutes?
4. How many nights did I have insufficient / poor quality sleep?
5. What % of the time did I feel dissatisfied with my direction in life?
6. How often did I fail to meet health / diet targets that I set for myself?
7. How many weeks did I NOT see friends or relatives outside of work?
All of these questions are based on known drivers of personal resilience. So, why not start working on one area in 2013 today? For example, many people have opted for a “Dry January”, and are counting down the days until “Business as Usual” on 1st February. Why not build on your success and aim for “Moderation till March” or “Abstinence until April?” It might be easier than you think!
To find out more about how to boost yours’ and your sales team’s resilience contact firstname.lastname@example.org